A few months ago, I received an email from author Linda Morganstein, after she came across my blog. Morganstein, who has written many books, offered me a copy of her latest novel, Girls in Ice Houses, in exchange for an honest review. Thank You Linda for the opportunity! I also need to mention that I always think that it's a ballsy move when authors contact me and I hope that when I have my novel finished, I'm bold enough to put my writing out there in the same way.
PLOT - Los Angeles based paparazzo, Maxie Wolfe is in a heap of trouble. In efforts to get a shot, Maxie gets into a physical altercation with the celebrity's agent, Fisher Jacobs. Maxie and Fisher are both arrested and subsequently sentenced to undergo anger management classes. The two women wind up in the same anger management class and a shared disdain towards each other that begins to turn into a mutual admiration and attraction. When Fisher must return home to deal with family matters in Minnesota, she invites Maxie along for the trip. In Minnesota, Maxie develops a love for both Fischer and Fischer's highly unusual family. She also rediscovers her passion for photography, a passion that has nothing to do with hunting celebrities.
LIKE - Girls in Ice Houses is filled with highly likable characters. I was ready to move in with the lovable Jacobs clan. The Jacobs reminded me of slightly less odd-ball Wes Anderson characters. Maxie is also a very likable protagonist. She is guarded and unsure of herself, but that tough exterior begins to melt when she discovers a whole group of people who love and accept her. Morganstein has a keen sense of humor in her writing and I enjoyed how her story shifted settings from the hustle of Los Angeles to the quiet of Minnesota. I connected with the theme of Maxie finding herself through her photography and rediscovering a passion. I really got a kick out of seeing a mention of artist, Kehinde Wiley. I graduated high school with Wiley!
DISLIKE - The sweetness of this story overshadows some very serious dysfunction. I wanted to know more about Maxie and her father, which felt like it could have been a whole book itself. Some of the conflict was resolved too easily. I thought that Maxie caved too quickly when Fischer invited her to Minnesota. I liked Maxie and Fischer, but I never quite believed their love. Maxie was so guarded throughout the story, that it felt out of character for her to make that transition to loving Fischer. It felt like a piece of the story was missing.
RECOMMEND - Yes. Girls in Ice Houses is a fun read and I think that many readers would find it enjoyable. I liked Morganstein's style and I'd be inclined to read another novel by her. Although I thought this was a good story, my gut tells me that this is not Morganstein's best work.
Another note, I noticed on the internet that Girls in Ice Houses as classified as LGBT literature. I'll be honest, I'm not sure what exactly a book has to contain to be placed in the LGBT category. Yes, the two main characters are lesbians and they have a relationship, but I'd classify this as a romantic comedy with some very serious overtones. I think it's LGBT fiction in the same way that modern books with female protagonist get labeled "Women's Fiction". It's just funny to me. I mean to say that this story has broad appeal, appeal that stretches beyond anyone identifying as LGBT.