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SUMMARY: Sara B has made a name for herself taking photos of the stylish and tragically unhip—which are published as Dos and Don’ts in Snap, the trendy magazine she founded with her friend Ted 15 years ago. Now she’s coasting, enjoying an affair with her slightly younger lover, Jack, and disinclined to take anything too seriously—except for her upcoming 40th birthday.
Hiring Eva, a young woman she meets by chance, as her assistant seems like a good idea at the time, but it’s the beginning of the end of life as Sara knows it. Everything and everyone—Jack, her friends, her job—all seem to be changing at the speed of light, and not only can Sara not keep up, she isn’t even sure she wants to!
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In the opening chapter, Sara is contemplating how the parrot girl’s outfit must have taken her some time to choose so that it has just the right elements of new mixed with the current retro passion. Because the woman has a parrot, Sara thinks she is trying too hard and although technically she could be a ‘Do’, Sara wants to label her a ‘Don’t’ because people who go out in public with parrots should be punished. She takes her Polaroid of the girl, even has her sign a release form, and is very satisfied with herself for being parrot proactive when another girl named Eva comes by…
I was on my second hour of reading this book when I figured that it was based, at least in part, on 'All About Eve'. Eva becomes Sara’s assistant and before anyone knows it, least of all Sara, Eva is contributing to 'Snap' and has a lot of nifty ideas that she wants to pass along. Of course Sara doesn’t notice as much because she is too busy drinking and trying to figure out why she doesn’t feel fulfilled anymore from making sport of others.
I’ll cut to the chase and say that I loved ‘Snapped’ although as I’m rereading my first few paragraphs of this review, I realize that the protagonist isn’t the most likeable of individuals on paper, yet I assure you Pamela Klaffke’s sparkling writing makes her more palpable. Sara is going through a mid-life crisis and Klaffke makes some hilarious observations.
“Free,” I say. Like that explains anything. I think I may be retarded today, but I know enough to know I can’t say that because this isn’t junior high and when Ted and I called everything gay and retarded and we called each other gaylord and retard. You can’t say that unless you created South Park and you’re saying it through those animated kids that are surprisingly still funny, because you never know who’s gay or has a retard in their family. (page 29)
I tell her I don’t care who’s a DO and who’s a DON’T – I expect this to shock her, my biggest reveal – but the moment I say it aloud I want to crawl out of the room, down the steps and into the night. I’ll travel through alleyways and low-traffic side streets, I’ll forage behind Dumpsters and befriend raccoons. I’ll learn their ways and their customs. A young girl will find me and coax me to her backyard, where she’ll feed me berries from the trees and leftover steak she smuggles out of her house. We’ll be secret friends and I’ll never have to talk because she’ll think I’m a raccoon. But this will not have a happy ending. The girl will grow up and she’ll tell someone – a boyfriend – about me and he’ll tell someone else and soon there’s a documentary crew and a book deal and a reporter from Vanity Fair living with me in the corner of the girl’s backyard. It’s no longer quiet and I have no choice but to speak just to tell them to all to shut up. Then the girl figures out that I’m not a raccoon and we’re no longer friends. (pages 94-95)
The remedy to her ennui is that she has to grow up, which is exactly what her now suburban based business partner yells at her after she commits a faux pas of snapping his surgically breast enhanced neighbors at his son’s one year birthday party. Sara thinks it is hysterical, but she was encouraged by Eva to do it. Eva and Ted have some secrets of their own.
‘Snapped’ had me laughing and wondering what was going to happen next – which is a nice change of pace in comparison to most chick lits (although many of them are humorous, you usually know the way the who, what, and why within the first ten pages). It was nice to read a book geared towards a female audience that had the character questioning her life on all levels despite achieving success. At times, I thought the book was too negative in its observations, but Klaffke’s writing was so brilliant that I learned to forgive.
With that being said, there are a few superficial things that work against this book – mainly the cover. I have been reading chick lit for quite some time, and probably read more of it than the average Mama bear, thus when I picked up the book I thought it was supposed to appeal to a younger demographic than the back of the book synopsis would otherwise indicate. Beyond all else, I was also a tad confused by the constant use of Polaroid cameras since the company hasn’t been selling film since February 2008. Otherwise, I would recommend this book for a winter giggle or for a summer read. The passages dedicated to Sara’s potential mutant baby are worth the retail price alone.