Carpool Diem Review
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We’ve all heard the soccer mom stories—about the competition, the back-stabbing, and the intrigue that goes on from the sidelines. But Annie Fleming had no idea what she was getting herself into when she agreed to let her 12-year-old daughter, Charlotte, try out for the traveling soccer team.

A newly unemployed change specialist, Annie is suddenly forced to juggle a demanding new consulting client with Charlotte’s demanding new soccer schedule—a task that becomes even more challenging after her live-in babysitter walks out. To make matters even worse, Annie’s husband, Tim, has started acting strangely—and he’s been going on mysterious business trips that he refuses to explain.

As Annie soon learns, being a soccer mom is more than just dropping her daughter off at the field for practice. It’s a whole new world of rules and meetings and politics and jealousy that she never knew existed—and, suddenly, she finds herself right in the middle of it.

  
 
Carpool Diem is a difficult story to explain—because it wanders off in so many directions. At times, it’s a story about Annie—about her career and her marriage and her family. But, at other times, it’s a story about soccer—about the crazy parents and the even crazier coach. And that makes the whole book feel disjointed—like it’s two (or even more) very different stories that were somehow slapped together. The soccer parts are entertaining, but they’re not really solid enough to stand on their own. And the Annie parts feel a bit flat—as if the author had to cut back on really developing them to make room for the soccer parts. In the end, the two stories are supposed to have affected each other in some way, but, looking back, the connection between the two isn’t all that strong.

I also found it difficult to relate to the characters. Though Annie’s the main character, readers never get to know her all that well. She’s stiff and overly structured, and she’s not all that likeable. She tries to force her methods and her catch phrases and her business-world practices on those around her (including her 12-year-old daughter), yet, in her business dealings, she doesn’t seem to be as tough and hard-nosed as she is at home. When the book’s over, you won’t really feel like you know her. Fortunately, though, Annie isn’t as irritating as many of the other characters—like the high-level coach, whose crazy, exclamation-point-loaded bulletins are included every few chapters, or the lower-level coach who regularly uses words like “socca-rific” and “socca-pology.”

The two main parts of Carpool Diem would have been interesting on their own—if they’d been more fully developed. Together, though, they make for a disjointed socca-story that will most likely leave you feeling socca-frustrated.

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