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Book Review: Changes in Attitude by Kathleen Shaputis

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Writing a book is an amazing feat. It takes concentration, discipline, and an endless imagination. I take my hat off to anyone with the bollocks to accomplish it, and Kathleen Shaputis definitely has bollocks! Her new book Changes in Attitude is funny, strong, and involving. The main characters are interesting and funny, if occasionally irritating, but some of the supporting cast fall a little flat. The author periodically makes the mistake of assuming you know more than you do or that you have taken leaps in reasoning that didn’t always track. It is, however a very clever, and fun read.

Allie (Allisa) Thompson is a mid-forty-ish career gal who has built her own educational software company from the ground up with just her towering intellect and her sharp wit to help her along the way. Now facing the autumn of her years, she realises that her life is not complete. She needs a baby and she needs one now. She is, after all, running out of time. But with no potential daddy material in her life (unless you count her twice-a-year shag-fest with a sexy fisherman from Seattle) she decides to turn to In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF). So what would you expect a computer software designer to do when researching IVF treatment? That’s right, she goes online – giving cybersex a completely new twist. With the help of her two best friends, she manages to get “with child” on her very second try.

Her two best friends are something else. One is Soozi — where but in Southern California could someone be named that without drawing giggles — Allie’s best friend from childhood and metaphorically the yin to her yang. Where Allie is a successful self-involved executive, Soozi is literally Soozi Homemaker with a husband (her college sweetheart nonetheless), two kids, and suburban tract housing – what’s more she even makes cupcakes from scratch.

Her other best friend is the most clichéd gay man in existence. The clichés begin with his long flowing hair, chiseled features, and a sense of style that rivals his sense of humour. Gil (Gillian Nation) is a finger-snapping, Mozart-loving fashion guru of the highest order. I have many gay friends and none of them could hold a candle to this man – although a couple would like his phone number. Gil is Allie’s assistant, who seems to take his job very seriously right down to picking her clothes and doing her make-up on the odd occasion. What a friend indeed!

Soozi and Gil, it should be noted, hate each other and fight like cats in heat. I think this plot point had a lot of potential but the author never really took advantage of it nor did she ever make it quite believable. The reader never learns why they hate each other and therefore misses the reasons behind this interesting and potentially funny dynamic.

Jack Strong is the hero of the story and another lost opportunity. Jack comes along into Allie’s life after the IVF has taken. He doesn’t know she is with number 45’s child (45 is the catalog number of the frozen daddy) and, as they start dating, Allie quickly show signs of being in love. It feels like the author is unsure of what kind of man he is – he seems to be dashing and a klutz, sensitive and completely oblivious, highly sexual and a virgin.

Maybe if he was introduced a little earlier in the book we could see more of their developing relationship instead of being filled in on the details later. And that is the primary flaw in this book. In places, the detail is over-written; in others it is missing. You get to read a scene were Allie attends an endless lunch with vacuous women she has been friends with for years. After too many boring details that could have been summed up in a paragraph or two, you end wondering why Allie is friends with these women.

Conversely, when Allie meets Jack – the only interesting heterosexual man in the book – she glazes over their dates and we never really get to see the relationship develop. I felt rather cold about their relationship and it made the end scene in the book feel forced and rather abrupt.

These flaws aside, this book is fun to read and I found myself laughing many times. Allie is a strong and well-developed character and a bit too quirky to feel real at times (look out for the PH factor). Gillian is interesting and funny – despite the cliché – and deserves a book all his own. This is a romantic comedy that anyone looking for a light read would enjoy.

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About A.L. Harper

  • Scott Butki

    Good review.
    Nice job.