On Maggie’s Watch – Book Review

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).

*FTC Disclosure: This book was sent to me by the publisher for review on my blog.

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  1. I had the pleasure of meeting the author at GLIBA. She’s just lovely, and I feel ashamed I haven’t read this one yet. I am so glad you enjoyed it. You’ve convinced me to move it up on my TBR pile!

    • zibilee on November 28, 2010 at 14:30

    Your synopsis of this book intrigues me and makes me think that this is something that I would love. I am going to have to try to check it out. Thanks for sharing this excellent review!

    • Wendy on November 28, 2010 at 14:51

    Michelle: I loved her website (she seems like a very funny, very nice person!). Hope you’ll enjoy the book!

    Zibilee: This was a fun, easy read – just what I needed right now in the midst of catching up on work and gearing up for the holidays. Hope you’ll get a chance to read it too 🙂

  2. This sounds like a good book to read during the hectic holidays!

  3. I have seen a few reviews out there that have been very pleasant to read — I need to track down a copy of this one, it sounds delightful.

    • Pam on November 29, 2010 at 01:06

    This sounds cute! Well, in writing and presentation, obviously not in subject matter. Looks like a good one for the busy, stressful holiday season, though!

  4. Thanks! for sharing

  5. I like the description of a ‘chocolate cake decision’. I wonder if that’s a term from the author’s family (I’d never heard it before).

  6. Thank you so much for a positively wonderful review. It is such a joy to read a review that so totally “gets” the book. I wanted to do just what you say; explore heavy themes with humor and compassion. I’m glad I could do that in your estimation.

    The chocolate cake decision just came to me. I wanted to describe the decisions we make that have nothing to do with need and everything to do with want.

    My best and thank you. Ann Wertz Garvin

    • Anna on December 2, 2010 at 07:46

    I have this book to review, too, and hopefully will be reading it soon. It sounded quite heavy when I read the pitch, but when I received the book, the summary seemed like a light, amusing take on things. I’m looking forward to this one!

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