THE FIXER UPPER, the latest novel by Mary Kay Andrews was exactly what I've come to expect from this talented Southern writer. I've been looking forward to this release ever since I read about it on her blog when she first started creating the story. I thought the premise was clever, combining a dramatic story of political bribery and blackmail with just the right amount of Southern charm and romance. And lets not forget the wicked wit that is ever present in Ms. Andrews novels.
But, oh, is Dempsey in for a surprise when she arrives in Guthrie. "Bird Droppings" would more aptly describe the moldering Pepto Bismol–pink dump with duct-taped windows and a driveway full of junk. There's also a murderously grumpy old lady, one of Dempsey's distant relations, who has claimed squatter's rights and isn't moving out. Ever.
Furthermore, everyone in Guthrie seems to know Dempsey's business, from a smooth-talking real-estate agent to a cute lawyer who owns the local newspaper. It wouldn't be so bad if it weren't for the pesky FBI agents who show up on Dempsey's doorstep, hoping to pry information about her ex-boss from her.
All Dempsey can do is roll up her sleeves and get to work. And before long, what started as a job of necessity somehow becomes a labor of love and, ultimately, a journey that takes her to a place she never expected—back home again.
One of the things I really like about Mary Kay Andrews' books is that she jumps right into the story on page one. By the end of the first chapter, you are well into what's happening. Another thing she is fantastic at is creatng the most interesting and fun characters. This certainly holds true in THE FIXER UPPER as well. I instantly liked Dempsey the moment I started reading her words. She may be inexperienced professionally, but she has a fighting spirit and a good heart that makes you want to pull for her from the beginning. The supporting characters are equally as likable and each have their own distinct purpose in the story.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Birdsong, the family home, and how, with the help of some locals, Dempsey sets to work in fixing it up. The underlining story of her ex-boss implicating her in illegal activities makes for a good balance of drama mixed in with this story of family and what it means to find out where you come from. And ultimately, where your life will take you.
I would encourage you to read this very entertaining book even if you're not usually a reader of chick-lit. Personally, I don't particularly like the term 'chick-lit'. I think it has a stigma that gives the wrong impression of a book. In this case, Is this a crime novel? No, it isn't. Is it full of drama? No, not really. What it is, is a thoughtful story about family, self discovery and the character of people. The story of Dempsey and her legal troubles that are looming over her are completely realistic and interesting but the experiences and people she encounters while fixing up Birdsong teach Dempsey more than any high-powered job in Washington D.C. ever could.
Once again, Mary Kay Andrews has written a book that was well worth the wait. I want to thank Book-Fan Mary for sharing her advanced copy with me after she found out how much I was looking forward to this book. Mary wrote her own review a few week ago and you can read it here. Also, there's a cute video of Mary Kay Andrews talking about THE FIXER UPPER here on Harper Collins' website. For more about Mary Kay and all of her books and to read her equally entertaining blog, click here.
Sometimes we just need a book that makes us smile while we read and ends up making us feel good. If you're looking for something to read this summer, you can't go wrong with THE FIXER UPPER.
THE FIXER UPPER
Author: Mary Kay Andrews
Publisher: Harper Collins
Published: June 23, 2009
Rating: 4 our of 5 Stars