Kris Radish returns with another of what some call “chick-lit for the more mature woman” with her new book, Searching for Paradise in Parker, PA. Radish tells the story of Addy and Lucky Lipton within the confines of a clever format: Addy’s story is told in third-person narrative, while Lucky’s somewhat shorter alternating chapters are told in first person. This is an interesting way to let the reader see how Lucky feels, while one might not get that from just reading only Addy’s part of the story.
The Liptons have been married for twenty-eight years as Addy, a school teacher, begins to feel very discontented with her boring existence. With one son in college, Addy is looking for more to life than what she has settled for. She wonders where and how things got so out of control in her married life. When did she become content to sit by and just settle for the static life they now live, and where is that romantic man she fell in love with? As she looks around her home, she is especially bothered by the mess in their garage. Lucky collects odd trash heap items - old bowling balls or a car he has worked on for over 19 years yet still doesn’t run. Addy calls this junk-filled garage, which leaves no room for Addy to park, the “Kingdom of Krap.” Things come to a boiling point when Addy, having imagined just running her car straight into the garage and driving through until she hits the wall and destroys the mess within, nearly decides to act on this idea.
As fate would have it and Addy is about to run her car into the “kingdom”, Lucky rushes out to tell her that he has won a trip to Costa Rica. Lucky is excited at the prospect of a trip to paradise that might just be what their ailing marriage needs. Both hope that this will help, but they never get to find out. As they prepare to leave, Lucky seriously hurts his back packing the luggage into the car.
Following his hospital stay, Lucky must rest and be waited on while he recuperates, and Addy questions if their marriage can also recover as her discontent mounts.
Addy knows their marriage needs help, and with a cast of supporters the likes of her single sister Helen (Hell), who is very close to Addy, and her friends who work out together , nicknamed the “Sweat-hers”, she tries to revive a failing union. Addy’s friends and sister become involved in an almost community effort to improve their love lives. With some unpredictable experiences and adventures, these gals take the small town and turn it upside down.
As shown especially in Lucky’s chapters, the men in the lives of these women realize that perhaps they need to change things as well. What the men do and how it will affect not only Addy but also the other women in Parker, PA, brings humor as well as heartache to this story. Readers like myself may find their allegiance more at times with the men, who really seem to be trying to figure out what their women want and how to please them. All the characters in the story (with of course, Addy and Lucky in the forefront) must face the realities of what has become of their lives and what recourse they have to make things better - and decide if they want to make things better or just move on. With some unanticipated surprises and twists, including the part son Mitchell plays in his parents’ story, this becomes a narrative that poses the questions so many people ask: what does it really take to be satisfied? Can happiness and contentment be revived? What does it take and do Addy and Lucky finally capture that elusive goal?