A Christmas Wish
by Celeste O Norfleet, contemporary (2002)
Arabesque, $5.99, ISBN 1-58314-331-9

Reading Celeste O Norfleet's second book A Christmas Wish is like listening to a Martian karaoke singer brutally murdering a song in his language. The Martian may be having the time of his life, but I'm not, and worse, I have no idea what he is yammering about. Same with this book. If Ms Norfleet is having fun, she's the only one.

The plot is... weird. Kimberly Franklin is a barely teen who is obsessed with seeing her Uncle Pierce Franklin married. So much so that she made her Christmas wish so hard, not for a car, not for Lil' Bow Wow to make her into a woman, and not for anything but Uncle Franklin finding the right woman, ie her school assistant principal Patricia Burke. What the heck? Is this gal for real or she is just a plot device, a badly conceived Mary Sue matchmaker?

Kimberly machinates a plan that involves deliberately screwing her own grades up so that Uncle Pierce and Miss Burke can meet and hopefully shag at the Parent Teacher Conference Hall while Kim is watching. Along the way, there are the usual galfriend/matchmaker buddies of Patricia whose sole subject of conversations is Patricia's sex life. I've never encountered such a painfully contrived matchmaking story in a long time.

But they shouldn't have bothered. See, Patricia has been having a crush on Pierce since she was a dowdy teen rescued by handsome and glorious then-teen Pierce. As if this story isn't transparently contrived already, yes, let's introduce another painful contrivance here.

But Patricia and Pierce have the chemistry of two similarly charged atoms. Here, at least, one thing rings real: I cannot expect much chemistry from two people who are all but forced to have sex by everybody around them, can I? The introduction of a crazy unwanted suitor of Patricia only adds to the bewildering mix.

I find it amusing that Pierce seems more concerned with his chances for scoring with Patricia even when it seems that Kim has a genuine problem. Or when Patricia encounters problems with her job, it is never over her sleeping with a parent. But when a silly Big Misunderstanding that doesn't make sense at all perpetuate one final inane conflict that pushes me off the brink, I am not amused anymore. I want some beheading.

All in all, a bewildering story with little macabre entertainment value for make up for it.

Rating: 49

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