Avon Trade, $13.95, ISBN 0-06-056012-6
Contemporary Fiction, 2003
Despite being a book that is totally generic, plot- and character-wise, debut author Michelle Cunnah’s 32AA manages to be very entertaining due to the presence of a heroine that is actually likable and sympathetic instead of being self-absorbing and annoying.
Emma Taylor is self-conscious about her lack in the chest department although she tries not to be. These insecurities spring forth like water from a broken dam when she is dumped by her boyfriend for an older woman who wears a C cup and who is good for this jerk’s career. Her friends rally around her and Emma spends the rest of the time mourning, laughing, and complaining about men and life in general until she finds romance once again with her stepuncle Jack. It’s not as bad as it sounds, that stepuncle thing, trust me.
The plot is very familiar and the characters are all from central casting. There’s the smart friend to dispense with brusque and practical advice (Rachel), the more idealistic and reticent friend to be the first friend’s foil (Tish), the friendly and chi-chi gay couple, the Daddy, the Mr Wrong, the Mr Right, the Bitch that Stole The Ex Away, and of course, the heroine herself – these are all characters that readers familiar with the chick-lit genre can second guess from the get go. But what makes this book work very well is that these friends actually provide a genuinely positive support network for Emma and it is very easy to enjoy this story because this story has – let me use this word at the risk of me sounding corny – heart. When Emma needs them, they are there. Emma is also a fun heroine because she tries not to be that self-absorbed; she wants to get over Adam and move on with her life. Emma’s character is going somewhere instead of being trapped in a pity party circle of futility, and I can’t help but to like her.
This book starts out very slow because the set-up is so predictable that reading it is quite painful. Once the dumping has taken place, the party finally starts for Emma and her friends and that’s when this book becomes a fun and amusing romp. Michelle Cunnah definitely knows how to hit hard when it comes to punchlines.
32AA is a very generic story, almost painfully so, but Ms Cunnah manages to sprinkle in enough humor and maintain a jaunty pace throughout the story to keep me reading and smiling. While I wish that Michelle Cunnah’s next book will be less of a cookie-cutter material, I can’t deny that I have really have a great time spending company with Emma and her friends for a little while.