I used a quote from this book for my Teaser Tuesday post because this book was just soooo funny, I couldn’t put it down until I finally finished it about 3:30 a.m. It was just too hilarious even though there were some very poignant moments. Preschooled is Anna Lefler‘s second book, so I’m probably going to pick up the first, Chicktionary, although I’m not a fan of the idea of “chicklit”, “chick movies”, and anything “chick” because it always sounds like, even if it isn’t meant as, a putdown. So, that said, here is what Preschooled is about.
All is not rosy at the Garden of Happiness Preschool. The chapter titles are all one of three characters: Margaret, who owns and runs the most prestigious preschool on the Westside of Santa Monica, CA, Justine, a mom who found all of the preschools she previewed a bit annoying but thought her daughter, Emma, was the most comfortable at the GoH, and Ruben, a stay-at-home dad of twins whose wife is working so that he can work on his comedy script and possibly land a job in television.
All of the other characters revolve around these three: Margaret, whose suddenly earth-child husband has walked out on her so he decides, since her school is their only major asset, that he’s entitled to a chunk of its value; Justine, who very quickly becomes ensnared in all of the extra curricular activities she’s dragged into so that her daughter can eventually get into the kindergarten of her choice and discovers the first evening that not only is her former lover there with his wife and children, but they are “paired” with Justine and her husband, Greg, and are “required” to socialize with them in order to learn the ropes; and finally, Ruben, whose wife encourages him to become busier in order to get more done on his script, so he winds up on several committees being Mr. Gracious in order to be successful at preschool.
Spinoffs include Greg being “vamped” by a lawyer “femme fatale” at work and doesn’t recognize it, while Justine’s best friend forever, Ruthie, has a secret she’s been hiding from her for almost a decade and it threatens to pull them apart; Ruben’s attempt to network with another husband via his GoH committee backfires in a way that benefits him anyway; and, Margaret’s husband, Eddie, is using their daughter to pressure her into selling her school since that’s the only way she can see to come up with the money required to buy Eddie out.
One of the funniest characters in the book, is Margaret’s executive assistant, Trey, who seems to be the one person who knows her well enough to give her sarcastic backtalk which actually picks her up. Well, usually. His ability to
“continue to stare at her with one eyebrow cocked, unconcerned with generally accepted rules of conduct between employees and employers, until she caved. . . was one in an array of infuriating qualities that, while frustrating Margaret on an almost hourly basis, also made him indispensable as the school secretary. No one — not even Margaret — defanged an imperious Westside mom with the ruthless efficiency of a gay man who lacked a social censor.”
This novel is incredibly witty, rife with characters most of us will have met at one time or another, in one field or another, to one degree or another, as they are not limited to the preschool setting, it’s just that they tend to shine there. I’m not sure if Lefler coined the term “wasband” — the man who was your husband — but I’d never heard it before and I love it. Trey describes Margaret’s daughter’s roommate as “an angry woman with the Danny Partridge haircut”, while Leticia is described by Trey as a “mini-Margaret”. His advice to Margaret is to
“show a smidge of that vulnerability we both know you’d rather get a poodle perm than own up to. Give [Eddy] the impression that when he goes to his car, he won’t find you crouched in the backseat waiting to filet him with a Garden Weasel.”
Judging from what Lefler describes on her website as her own “transformative process that started in a mini-mall coffee shop with a pencil, a spiral notebook, and the first of several thousand zucchini-walnut muffins”, her Ruben character is somewhat based on herself. Her writing is clear and precise, delivering zingers with aplomb, and maintaining a high level of suspense in what is not really a suspense novel. This was fabulously entertaining. * * * * *