As I emerge from between my mother’s legs–all thirteen pounds, eight ounces of me–Alfresca catches me. Then I do the usual baby stuff: I get my cord cut, I’m slapped, I cry, I get weighed and measured, someone wipes the cheesy stuff off my hairy head, and finally I get handed off to my mother.
“Oh,” Francesca says, gently parting the swaddling to examine my body further, “it’s a boy. This wasn’t what I was expecting at all. I was so sure, all along, I was going to have a girl.”
Then she dies.
“If you’d been a girl,” Alfresca says, taking me from my dead mother’s arms as the midwife tries in vain to resusitate my disappointed mother, “this would never have happened.”
This novel had me laughing right from the very beginning. I laughed so much through this whole book that people would laugh because I was laughing, of course not knowing what I was laughing about.
All through Johnny’s life, he’s held a torch for a certain girl named Alice. Alice promptly rejects Johnny every time he asks her to a dance, a date or to be a part of anything he’s involved in. Johnny’s used to it though; Alice isn’t the first girl to feel the way they all seem to.
Johnny Smith and his father–Big John–and his mother’s twin sister, Alfresca, live in a place called Danbury. Johnny’s lived there all his life and is now running his father’s painting business. Although he actually went to school to be a lawyer, because of the guilt over losing his mother at birth and his father having to take on both roles of mother and father, Johnny sacrifices his high-paying lawyer knowledge and goes to work for his father, now having taken over the business.
Johnny makes friends easily…well, guy friends anyway. He’s a Bro-magnet…guys flock to him for his knowledge of all things sports and cars, Best Man speeches and his personality. Girls run away from him…far away from him. He just can’t seem to ever find “the one”. The only woman in his life is his best guy-type girlfriend, Sam, who just so happens to love sports, hates to shop and plays ball for the other team.
Johnny’s been the Best Man at eight of his friends weddings and he’s always given the same speech. It seems he’s always the Best Man, never the Groom.
While at a painting job of a lawyer, he is offered opening day tickets behind the bench of the Yankees. He’s not a Yankee’s fan, but the tickets were free; he didn’t want to pass them up or seem ungrateful, so he goes. While there, he meets Helen…well, rather he sort of lands in her lap while trying to catch a pop-fly. Soon she asks him to come paint her house. He even sacrifices his weekends just to paint her place. He does this over several Saturday’s until he finally gets up the nerve to ask her out.
But because Johnny’s always had bad luck with women, he goes to the one woman that he could never have…Alice. Alice tells him what he should change about himself in order to get the woman. Change his name to John (because Johnny just sounds so boyish) and stop wearing a baseball cap (and for goodness sake, stop wearing it backwards!) and to stop acting like himself.
Does Alice’s advice help Johnny to win the girl? Will the changes that Johnny makes be something that his friends and family can live with? Will he ever be the Groom? You’ll have to get this book to find out.
It wasn’t actually until the last few pages of the book, when I was looking up the title at Amazon so I could get a picture of the cover for this review, that I realized that the author was a woman. The novel was beautifully written in the words of a man, his POV…Things a man would do or say are reflected on every page. I laughed so much in one part that I was crying. Anyone with a sense of humour will love this book.
There are a wonderful array of supporting characters, starting with Sam, his lesbian BFF and of course, Alice (the always unattainable one) that married his male BFF Billy; Alfresca, who always made a point of telling him that if only he’d been a girl, his mother would have lived; and Leo…a man who had been with the same woman for over 70 years. He gave Johnny great advice and insight about the workings of a woman’s mind.
This book was a fun one. I enjoyed it from the very beginning, not wanting to put it down. I laughed through every page and chapter. You will too. I give this book 5 stars!