Avon, $5.99, ISBN 0-380-81396-3
Contemporary Romance, 2001
Followin’ a Dream reads like a strange hybrid of a new age philosophy story and a typical contemporary romance. The plot itself can be taken as a metaphor for your, my, and everyone’s lives, in a story where grannies are kooky and our heroines are the sort who need to be shown the way.
Vanessa Bradley is our heroine who could use a life. A former computer programmer, she spends what’s left of her free time after her father’s death taking care of her poet mother (lots of kook potential here, and the author doesn’t disappoint), volunteering at the local women charities, and whining about how sad she is because as a child, her parents sort of neglected to pamper and cherish her, and of course, don’t forget her blues about men.
She expects to win the local award for Volunteer of the Year, but to her horror, a man won it! Xavier Johnson (AKA “The X-Man”, don’t laugh), a man, oooh, A MAN! How dare he?!! And what is a MAN doing volunteering at a WOMAN’s charity, huh? ALL MEN ARE BASTARDS! WHO THE HELL DOES XAVIER THINK HE IS?!!
Meanwhile, Momma Bradley, Poet and New Age Kook, decides that the Australian aboriginal shaman arts are the way to go to reconnect with dead Daddy Bradley, so she takes off… “Momma, where are you going?” Van shrieks, but too late, Momma’s gone. “But… but I’m supposed to take care of you? What am I to do now?” Van laments.
The X-Man is here, however, and he and Van then hold hands as they put on their new age cool shades and start globe-trotting in search of Momma. Sort of like Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego?, only this time a middle-aged seance-obsessed granny is the Carmen Sandiego in question.
This is, of course, a perfect opportunity for the author to lovingly douse me with Aboriginal wholesome goodness. How wonderful it is to live a life of simplicity where we are one with the Earth and the Spiritual Realms. Yes, yes, lovely.
But that’s no excuse for the somewhat one-dimensional characterizations of Van and the X-Man stuck in a plot that apparently is nothing more than window dressing for some more noble, enlightening new age zen. Too bad the author just can’t make the whole thing subversive. Followin’ a Dream is as dry as stale crust and like stale bread, doesn’t exactly leave me feeling full or even satiated.