"The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." — Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Small Change by Sheila Roberts

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Summary: Three neighbors with financial difficulties decide to work together to solve their problems.

I was given a copy of this book by the publisher.

When you laugh by the second page, that’s a good sign that you’ll enjoy the book. But I was also wincing in sympathy by the end of the first chapter.  If you liked the Shopaholic series, then this is the updated realistic version: Frugalistas or Recessionistas.

Tiffany has been struggling with infertility and is a compulsive bargain hunter.
“As far as Tiffany was concerned, the three sexiest words in the English language were fifty percent off. She was a world-class bargain hunter (not surprising, since she’d sat at the feet of an expert- her mom), and she could smell a sale a mile away.
Good as she was at ferreting out a bargain, she wasn’t good with credit cards. It hadn’t taken Tiffany long to snarl her finances to the point where she and Brian had to sue their small, start-a-family savings and Brian’s car fund to bail her out.”
Jess and her husband chose to stay in Heart Lake after he lost his job and now Jess has to find a job at age 44 after being out of the work force for years. Her wardrobe is sparkly pink tank tops and flip-flops and her typing skills are abysmal.
“She thought of having to face that one-hour commute on a regular basis and shuddered. You don’t have to find full-time employment, she reminded herself, something part time will do. Nothing at all would do better. She really wasn’t cut out to be an office drone.”
And Rachel is a newly-divorced mother, scared to say no to her kids’ constant demand for stuff after the divorce.
“She needed another prince like she needed a third boob. She already had her hands full with Aaron, who was as lousy an ex as he once was a husband – always late with his child support payments, but still managing to come up with money for presents for the kids and frequent trips to Pizza Heaven to ensure his status as the favorite parents. She’d been coping with all of that, pretty much, but now she’d been set adrift in a leaky raft on a stormy financial sea. Was she a survivor?”
So these three neighbors, who are all struggling financially, change their Friday night craft nights into the Small Change club, determined to improve that small financial changes can make a big difference. Tiffany starts a small e-Bay business, with delightfully funny results, Rachel starts a popular blog with real recipes I plan to use, and Jess always reminds herself (and us) what is most important – a loving family, health and togetherness.

Easy to read, well-researched, and authentic, this book has something for everyone, even some solid financial advice. But you’ll have to read the book yourself to get those gems.

What I especially liked is that while this book had an essentially happy ending, it was not a typical story-book ending. The problems were solved in a realistic way that, while not ideal, certainly made sense. It’s not as fluffy as typical chick-lit, not as righteous as the Christian fiction I read but instead was a story of solid friendship in the middle of financial hardships.

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