Full of humor, likeable characters, fast-paced action and unusual story lines, Sunnyside Blues is the perfect beach book. The first chapter, set in a police precinct in Sunnyside Queens, hints at many of the plot complications to come (aliases, kidnapping, paternity tests, arson and snake handling), but it is Chapter Two that really begins the narrative.
“’Pedophile!’ he screamed at her from the middle of the dock. ‘Pedophile!’>
In Seattle on a mission to rent a houseboat and finally create a home, Andes comes face to face with the contradiction that is ten-year-old Chase. Since he can’t bring himself “to scream at the person he was really angry with…he unleashed his rage on strangers, giving him a shot of pleasure that often lasted the whole day.”
Andes Lane, a petite twenty-five-year-old world traveler, was standing on the
dock with a worn green yoga mat clutched in one hand and a shiny penny outstretched in the other.”
At first Andes is understandably more taken with her new landlord, Jay Freeman, than his obnoxious son Chase. In the course of one raucous Fourth of July evening however, Andes finds herself the improbable guardian of this precocious kid. Author Mary Carter does an outstanding job unfolding the growing and often paradoxical relationship between Andes and Chase. The author clearly has an understanding of how it is possible to have maternal instincts for a child who is driving you absolutely crazy - and how a troubled child often attempts to push away the very person offering support.
To aid Chase, Andes travels to New York City, where she finds just the home she was hoping for, and a number of well-drawn minor characters who help advance this story to its successful climax. Dave Jensen is the hunky fireman who just happens to fall in love with Andes while she is stealing DNA evidence. Hilda and her son, Alejandro, are the new friends who soon become suspicious of Chase’s emotional stability.
Ironically, Chase ends up helping Andes confront her troubled past in Starling, West Virginia. At the same time, Andes is hoping to get Chase to come clean on his obsession with fire. An unpredictable and entirely satisfying ending finally solves the arson question but leaves Andes’ future undecided.
A fast read, this is Carter’s third book. The funny, quirky character of Andes makes what could have been a heartbreaking yet improbable tale into a lighthearted adventure, possibly one with a sequel.