Not long after reading "Sherry Cracker Gets Normal" by D. J. Connell, an entertaining story of a woman with a slightly skewed world view, I came across ''A Life Lived Ridiculously'', which promised to travel a similar path. What made me anticipate this book is that the author, Dr. Annabelle R. Charbit, is a doctor of Neuroscience and so should have a decent understanding of things affecting the human mind. As a psychology graduate myself, this is something that has always fascinated me.
Maxine is from a Jewish family who think that as her 20s are nearing their end, she should be married. Maxine, for her part, hasn't found anyone to interest her and is more concerned with combining her job and her studies and getting away from the yoke of her parents. She is also worried about her possessions and worries that she has too many and that they make her flat look untidy. She just can't get her flat organised the way she likes it, either, with the light not being quite right and never quite being able to decide which room her television should be in.
Much changes when she meets Sam. They have much in common, as he's also Jewish and running multiple jobs so he can pay for his studies. He has several things working against him, however, as he's only on a student visa which limits his earning capacity and he suffers various physical ailments, including cancer. He also has a tragic past, with his parents meeting nasty accidents and a former girlfriend committing suicide. Despite warnings from various people, Maxine is determined to try and make a go of things with Sam.
I very much enjoyed "A Life Lived Ridiculously", for the most part. Despite, or maybe because of, her idiosyncrasies, Maxine is a thoroughly likeable character. Her slightly over-bearing parents, especially their willingness to see her married off, remind me slightly of my own. This gives the book a slight edge of realism that isn't apparent in many chick-lit style novels, helped by Maxine not having time to spend hours meeting friends over long lunches when she should be working.
What endeared me to Maxine, and the book as a whole, was that we see so much of her life. There are none of the huge jumps over the boring parts that often happen in the genre. We see Maxine at work and her studies and when she's rearranging her flat. She fails to see Sam's attraction to her at first and vacillates over whether to give him money he seems to need. Her suspicions that all isn't well creep up on her slowly and she has moments of doubt when mutual friends don't immediately agree with her point of view. Such natural events and feelings, but so often missing from chick-lit novels and they help to balance out the stranger events like misplacing her car and spending hours messing with lamps when she should be sleeping.
As enjoyable a read as ''A Life Lived Ridiculously'' was, a couple of aspects took the enjoyment away. Firstly, the ending wasn't in keeping with the rest of the novel, as if the author was trying to balance things out for Maxine a little. More of an issue for me, however, was the editing, which let a number of mis-spellings get through, such as "dozed" being constantly spelt as "dosed" among others. Maybe I'm more of a stickler for spelling than some, but each time I saw one of these errors, it interrupted the flow of my reading. At a couple of points, Maxine wondered how anyone could possibly collapse, but some of the spelling left me wondering how anyone "dosed off".
It's a shame about these flaws, as otherwise ''A Life Lived Ridiculously'' had the potential to be an excellent book. It may fit nicely into a chick-lit genre I'm not really the ideal audience for, but I still enjoyed it. The edge of realism of Maxine's life, so beautifully counter balanced by the strange behaviours of her O. C. D. made for an interesting and enticing combination and if the editing at least can be improved in later editions, this is certainly going to be a book worth having a look at. However, with a cheapest price of £5.24 from Amazon at the time of writing, the price will also have to come down a little for it to be really worth it.