Author: Adrienne Miller
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux
ISBN – 13: 978-0-374-12512-7
ISBN – 10: 0-374-12512-0
The following review was contributed by: Jennifer Brown & Click Here To View Jennifer Brown's Reviews
Why is Merit Haven Ash feeling so out of sorts? She’s got a good job, a willing assistant, an upstanding husband, and a party to attend.
So what’s the problem?
Just that her job selling ad-space to a magazine bores her; her willing assistant is altogether incompetent…and appealing; her husband – with his chronically-crooked glasses – is a tad bit on the uptight side; and the party? Well, that’s the worst part of all. That’s the part where she’ll be thrown into a room with her mother, her father, her “Uncle” Fergus, and a gigantic family lie.
Adrienne Miller’s THE COAST OF AKRON is the story of Merit Haven Ash and her parents, Lowell Haven and Jenny Meatyard. Lowell Haven is a famous artist, best-known for his haunting and outrageous self-portraits. Jenny is an artist, too, best-known for…well, not known, really. And then there’s “Uncle” Fergus who fancies himself Merit’s mother and best friend. When Fergus’s omnipresence and Lowell’s philandering drive Jenny and Merit right out of the house and out of their lives nearly everyone is scarred. Lowell suddenly quits painting. Jenny dives into a bottle and rarely comes out. Merit flounders at work and at home. And Fergus clings to reality only by a fingernail and a penchant for dramatic flair.
So what’s to happen when Fergus is charged with planning a party for one of Lowell’s “friends?” Only the outrageous, of course.
THE COAST OF AKRON is a wry tale with characters so strange they almost have to be real. Their quirks, desires and actions give Miller’s story a delicious can’t-stay-away quality that has the reader glued to the very page for wonder of what ludicrous action is next on the list of Merit, Jenny, Lowell, and Fergus.
With plenty of action and lots of emotion, Miller carries the story along nicely – the only dull moments being a couple of lengthy passages of poor writing on Fergus’s part. Make no mistake, however. Adrienne Miller herself is no poor writer. Dispersed throughout the book are emotional gems such as this:
“Then he whispered into my ear, ‘I love you so much that I’m afraid, my dear, I’m just going to have to call you ‘Me’!’” (p. 161)
Miller’s humor is very understated and someone who needs jokes to smack them upside the head will likely be dumbfounded by THE COAST OF AKRON. Sardonic situations and wordplay are the name of the game here, with the irony of her characters’ situations lending themselves to wry humor that is not so much laugh-out-loud funny as they are completely amusing.
Adrienne Miller’s THE COAST OF AKRON is a gently funny read that will particularly appeal to a younger generation (perhaps the college-to- thirty-somethings crowd). While it is not a light or quick read, the time spent carousing with the words on the page feels like it flies. It is, indeed, time well spent.