RED HOT BOOK OF THE WEEK: Wallflower in Bloom by Claire Cook
They say that it's not the destination that makes a journey, but the path one takes to reach that destination. In Claire Cook's newest novel, the main character dances her way to excellence and that's why it's our Red Hot Book of the Week.
Deirdre Griffin is the family wallflower, always in the shadow of her brother Tag, a well-known New Age guru. Deirdre is Tag's personal assistant, expected to be at his beck and call at all hours. Her family members all have residences in Tag's New England compound, ready to serve Tag as needed. Even his ex-wives remain close by, unable to cut the strings that tie them to Tag.
Deirdre and Tag get in a heated discussion, Tag crossing the boundaries of what is appropriate to demand of his sister. Deirdre resigns, returning to her sheep-shed-turned-cozy-cabin home. Along the way, she is met by her on-again off-again boyfriend who tells her he is marrying another woman. Reaching her limit, Deirdre drowns her misery in a bottle of expensive vodka she stole from Tag's kitchen. In a drunken stupor, Deirdre uses Tag's massive social network following to get her voted in as a last-minute replacement for Dancing with the Stars. This act, while risky, may free her from the constraints placed upon her by her family as well as help heal her body and soul.
The journey Deirdre takes on the road to becoming a dancer is a strenuous yet rewarding one. She gains a respect for herself she's never known, learning to allow the inner beauty that has been held captive to bloom and blossom on the outside. Her family — Tad especially — witnesses this profound metamorphosis and finally sees Deirdre for the woman, the individual, she has been all along.
Wallflower in Bloom is a truly endearing and heartwarming novel. The author excels at creating realistic individuals who are seeking a transformation. She has created the perfect character in Deirdre — a character who is easy to identify with, a woman insecure in her own body, craving an escape. Deirdre's humor adds a great deal of levity, allowing the author to touch on some pretty heavy subjects such as weight and body image without bringing down the overall tone of the novel. Additionally, fans of Dancing with the Stars will appreciate seeing the show from a completely different perspective. A truly rewarding novel — the perfect summer beach read.