Author: Wendy Francis
Publication Date: May 5, 2020
Publisher: Graydon House Books
The drama is hot and the drinks are flying in Wendy Francis’s witty, warm, and quirky family drama, BEST BEHAVIOR (Graydon House; May 5, 2020; $17.99 USD). Heartfelt and relatable, Francis cleverly portrays the nuances of a less-than-perfect but more-than-loving blended family in all its messy glory.
Meredith Parker and her husband Joel have been dreading the weekend of their twins’ college graduation. Not only does it mean that Dawn and Cody are flying out of Meredith’s nest to live in Chicago and North Dakota, but it also means Meredith will have to deal with her insufferable ex-husband, Roger, his pompous parents and his new wife Lily, so young she could be the twins’ sister! But Meredith is willing to be the Jackie O. of college graduations. She can handle that for three days, can’t she?
Meanwhile, Dawn, who has spent a lifetime cleaning up after her ‘golden boy’ brother, discovers a mess even she may not be able to get Cody out of. He’s been acting weird last the few weeks of school; picking up smoking, breaking up with his girlfriend, but this... this is definitely a problem. She needs to figure out what’s going on with her twin before he really ruins his life.
I don't read a lot of chick-lit/women's fiction, but I could certainly identify with Meredith being an empty nester, which is what I think drew me to this one. There were things I liked about Meredith and things that kind of rubbed me the wrong way, but that's merely the sign of a well-rounded character. After all, how many people do we meet in real life and actually like every single thing about them? Anyway, this story is told from a handful of perspectives and everyone has a secret as this blended family gets ready for a graduation weekend. Did I like every character? Definitely not, but like them or not, this group of characters certainly made for interesting drama. And let's be honest, we all kind of enjoy the bird's eye view of family drama as long as it's not our own. So, there you have it - An entertaining bit of family drama in a story that has a steady enough pace to make for a good bit of beach reading or a pretty good way to while away a weekend.
Wendy Francis is a former book editor and the author of three novels: The Summer Sail, The Summer of Good Intentions, and Three Good Things. Her essays have appeared in Good Housekeeping, The Washington Post, Yahoo Parenting, The Huffington Post, and WBUR's Cognoscenti. Born and raised in the Midwest, she now lives outside of Boston with her husband and son.