Why Moms are Weird has a title we can probably all relate to, but don't expect a comprehensive explanation from Pamela Ribon's latest novel. This is not a universal story. My personal take on why moms are weird might not involve getting a phone call from said parent to discuss her possible sexually transmitted disease, or her hoarding instinct that leads to a house full of garage sale finds and stray dogs, or her ability to juggle several amorous men without any of them getting too close. But maybe that's just me. Maybe most moms are weird like that.
The title is a wink at Ribon's first novel, Why Girls are Weird, and the book itself is a familiar blend of humour and pathos for anyone who knows her writing - and that's a lot of people in cyberspace. For Pamela Ribon is more than a novelist; she's Internet royalty. She was blogging long before there were blogs, paying the bills through an online journal called Squishy that had a devoted following. She maintains it today at Pamie.com, and used it as inspiration for that first novel. Plus, not only did she write about television as a former recapper for Television Without Pity, she writes for television, with credits on Mind of Mencia and last season's short-lived Hot Properties.
There's maybe a more melancholy tone to Why Moms are Weird compared to Girls, though there's still humour ranging from sardonic to goofy. Our protagonist, Benny Bernstein, flies from Los Angeles to Virginia to take care of her widowed mother, whose broken leg has left her incapacitated. But Benny learns that the broken leg is more of a symptom than a cause, and sets about trying to make things right for and with her family, at the same time as she attempts to sort out her feelings for two men she can't admit she wants.
Ribon's engaging writing style makes up for the fact that there are few moments of recognition for me in this particular incarnation of chick lit. While Benny absorbs lessons in how to love her family, her men, and herself, there's an air of unreality to the romance aspects. Mickey is the boy she left behind in LA, the sensitive and passionate boy who claims to love her after mere weeks. Zach is the boy in Virginia, the sensitive and passionate boy who claims to love her weeks after being hired to help clean her mother's house. Both men come across more as fantasy objects than fully realized human beings, and while jealousy may be clouding my judgement, it's difficult to identify with or feel too much compassion for a woman who has two fantasy men fall in love with her within weeks. Bitch.