On Maggie's Watch, by Ann Wertz Garvin.
For once she understood a phrase her mother used to use when she was a kid, sometimes to help justify a shopping trip or an impromptu dinner out. "It is a chocolate-cake decision," her mother would say. She would wear her flirty sideways grin and explain, "A chocolate-cake decision is one where you know something is absolutely unnecessary and maybe a poor choice, but the decision to partake of it is rooted in only one question: Will it taste good?" Maggie remembered the collection of velvety red petals at her feet the night before, the still air, the feeling inside her when blade met botany. Oh, yes, and yes again, it did taste good, she thought. - from On Maggie's Watch, pages 85, 86 -
Maggie Finley is eight months pregnant and newly returned to her small hometown of Elmwood, Wisconsin. She not only carries the extra weight of pregnancy, but she also is struggling under her leaden fears of the past. When Maggie and her husband Martin lost their baby two years ago, Maggie's grief took over her life. Now, looking forward to a new baby, she finds herself remembering the pain of loss and fearing the worst. Her decision to move back to Wisconsin is largely based on the idea that this small town will be a safe haven. So when she discovers that a man on her street is listed on an Internet sex offender site, Maggie decides she must do something to safeguard her budding family. She quickly revitalizes the Neighborhood Watch program and secretly targets the man she believes to be a predator, while her best friend Julia tries to ground Maggie in a good dose of reality. On Maggie's Watch is a lighthearted look at the chaos and misunderstanding that occur when one very pregnant woman takes on crime prevention.
Ann Wertz Garvin's prose is funny, poignant, and captures the craziness that can happen in small town America when the neighbors start watching each other just a little too closely. I enjoyed the warm, honest friendship between Julia and Maggie, and their struggle to find themselves somewhere between the stereotypes of mother and wife. If the plot is a little predictable, it is easily overlooked because the characters are so charming.
Garvin examines the relationships between mothers and daughters, and husbands and wives in this debut novel ... and she takes a hard look at how destructive behavior can rear its ugly head when assumptions replace facts. Despite some of the serious subjects (marital discord, still birth, and sexual predators), this slim book is a feel-good read whose pages turn quickly.
On Maggie's Watch is enjoyable women's fiction, an entertaining book which will appeal to those readers who want a quick, light novel to read ... it is a bit of Desperate Housewives meets I Love Lucy (with a contemporary twist).
Three and a half stars out of five.
Catch all of Wendy Robard's reviews in her fabulous blog, "Caribousmom".