Author: Rangeley Wallace
Author: Rangeley Wallace
As a book reviewer, I have to admit that it was quite a refreshing treat to discover Rangeley Wallace and her most recent novel THINGS ARE GOING TO SLIDE.
In the first place, this is not a one-idea novel, as it reflects and is inspired by Wallace's vast experience teaching clinical law and the overseeing of the operation of university law clinics, as well as her awareness concerning the various theories of clinical education which differ from one law school to the next. Secondly, the voices of her characters are engaging and will no doubt win your attention, particularly the principal character Marilee Carson Cooper, who provides readers with an interesting brief education as to how free law clinics operate, the clients whom they serve and the students participation in providing assistance with research, drafting legal documents, meeting with clients and appearing in court with the assistance of their professors.
The story is set in southern United States and more particularly within the walls of Alabama Southern University Law School. Wallace constructs her plot around Marilee, a law professor who is very confident that she is about to be awarded the prestigious Sam Bailey, Jr. Chair in Clinical law. However, as most of us are familiar with the often used idiom “best- laid plans of mice and men often go astray,” Marilee is devastated when she is passed over for someone from outside of the university, whom she believes stole the chair from her. And to exacerbate matters the recipient of the award turns out to be her former boyfriend, Dwight Hurley, who cheated on her ten years ago when she was a young nineteen-year old college student that led to their breakup. She will now be obliged to work with him as his subordinate.
Apart from this setback, Marilee's life lately has not exactly been smooth sailing. She is very pregnant with her second child, her gay husband left her for his male lover, Associate Dean Sue Scanlon is proving to be quite a pain in the butt as she and Marilee have been tangling about the law school's purpose and future path since Sue arrived the previous Spring from Harvard. In addition, Sue does not support Clinical Law, Marilee's area of expertise and has rejected her proposal to expand the Clinic's facilities and to represent immigrants who are languishing at the Department of Homeland Security. Cutting back on services provided by the law clinic will definitely affect its many indigent clients as well the vital hands-on experience necessary for law school students if they wish to practice public law.
If these are not enough challenges that Marilee has to struggle with, she is also informed by Dean Dody that her job is on the line unless she publishes an article before the end of the semester. Apparently, Sue is the head of the Rank and Tenure committee and she insists in invoking the publish or perish rule. What is also candidly pointed out to Marilee by Dean Dody is that Sue was the one who vetted Dwight and made the big push for him based on his victory in a particular case and his publication of a textbook. As we will learn, these two elements will play a paramount role in the suspense, development and outcome of the plot, which incidentally also includes the intriguing legal issue of the shaken baby syndrome (SBS)-a form of child abuse when someone shakes, slams or throws a baby against an object causing brain injuries. How the yarn plays out is too exciting to divulge and this alone is worth the price of admission to the reading of the novel.
The real magic at work here is that Wallace has produced a fascinating tale in which she maintains a low-key, narrative economy that compliments her spirited characters and captivating plot. It is a novel that you are dying to know what happens next and it is not only an illumination to read that is packed with a great deal of information and learning, but it also serves as a reminder the way lives can easily slip into chaos. Is there a sequel in the making here?
Rangeley Wallace is also the author of No Defense and lives in Washington, D.C. She attended Washington College of Law, American University and was a fellow at Georgetown University’s Institute for Public Interest Representation where she received her LLM. She has practiced public interest law, corporate law, anti-trust law and criminal law.
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