This One Is Mine Review
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Forty-two-year-old Violet Parry is living the life that most women only dream of. Residing in a Hollywood Hills mansion with David, her rock ‘n’ roll manager husband who’s worth multi-millions, her toddler, Dot, and, of course, a full-time nanny, she wants for nothing…except a little excitement.

Raised in a wealthy family herself, Violet still appreciates what she has. However, something is missing. Enter Teddy Reyes, a bass guitarist and recovering drug addict who’s completely broke. Is it worth jeopardizing her marriage for him? She doesn’t want to end up like other Los Angeles divorcees, once wealthy but now selling real estate to make ends meet.

But the story isn’t all about Violet. David’s little sister, thirty-six-year-old Sally, is tired of going into debt helping out boyfriends, and she’s now determined to meet a man who can support both himself and her. A future sportscaster, the rigid and predictable Jeremy, comes onto the scene. Could she change him into what she wants him to be?

This One is Mine takes a comic look at these two discontented women who are determined to change their lives. As an Angelino, I enjoyed the local references, even down to neighborhood hangouts. The yoga-retreating stay-at-home moms with full-time nannies are the accurate typecasts of the L.A. elite. However, the stereotypes don’t go far enough. What happened to those of us (even the not-so-famous) who drown in a funk for days when our size-two jeans get a little tight, while we criticize our friends for being so shallow? How about all of those women (and men) who keep their plastic surgeons thriving in this dismal economy?

However, the novel’s major problem is that the story changes all too abruptly from severity to absurdity. Some elements are quite sobering and almost tragic, like living with Type 1 diabetes and contracting Hepatitis C. Then the story switches to slapstick, like its tumbling wedding cupcakes, completely missing that balance called “satire.”

Still, the story kept my interest, since I was anticipating a conclusion that warranted these extreme mood swings. Unfortunately, the conclusion really wasn’t satisfying or worth the ride.

I’m not sure where author Maria Semple was going with this story. Maybe she was just trying to demonstrate how bipolar this town really is. As a result, This One Is Mine isn’t serious enough for drama, nor comedic enough for satire.

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