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Sunday, April 8, 2007

Girls' Poker Night by Jill A. Davis

Ruby Capote , a New York columnist, is good at picking relationships where she will be the first one out the door. She refuses to set herself up for failure in anything, including the Wednesday night games she holds with her friends in Girls' Poker Night.

But there are reasons why Ruby lives her life in a shell. The divorce of her parents at a young age and then the death of her father keeps her in therapy. Ruby’s column is filled with her friends' lives sprinkled with bits of her own, but always things that keep the rest of the world out.

Life, however, isn’t about playing it safe; you have to take risks to get the things you want out of life. When Ruby falls in love with her boss, Michael, she learns these hard lessons firsthand.

The writing is sharp and funny; Ruby’s internal dialogue is biting at times. Her friends, while not fully developed, provide a good backdrop for Ruby’s character. But you wonder at the end where their lives ended up. You get a peek but the loose ends are not tied up.

I also have to admit that I found myself irritated with Ruby when she pushed Michael away for not being as perfect as she thought he should be. It fit with the character, fit into the story, and made sense, but it made me mad. While she does redeem herself later and the ending of the book is happy one, it was hard to like her after blundering about and being so self-righteous about it.

Ms. Davis’ newest book, Ask Again Later, has some strong similarities to this one. Both lead characters have family problems with dead fathers and both have commitment issues and run from not perfect but great guys. Not to mention the sessions of therapy. In my opinion Ask Again Later is the better of the two novels. A more mature gentler read but still containing the humor and sharp insights.

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