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Waldman, author of the Mommy Track mystery series, here takes a more serious tack, telling the story of a young woman who battles the American legal system's inflexible drug laws. Olivia Goodman, a rebellious 22-year-old, dropped out of college as a sophomore and headed for Mexico. After she moved back to her hometown of Oakland, Calif., she was followed by Jorge Luis Rodriguez Hernandez, with whom she had a brief affair in Mexico. Jorge crossed the border illegally and is unable to find work, and Olivia feels obligated to support him. Desperate for money, Jorge is persuaded to participate in a drug deal, and Olivia's vague complicity sweeps her into an intense legal battle when she is arrested with Jorge. To make matters worse, Olivia discovers she's pregnant with Jorge's baby. As Olivia fights for her freedom, her mother, Elaine Goodman, is doubly tormented. Elaine raised Olivia on her own, but never felt she could love her enough. Now, when she has finally found happiness with a man, she is forced to choose between helping her daughter and holding on to her fiancé. Waldman takes a somewhat didactic approach—U.S. drug laws are discussed at length, and the story of Elaine and Olivia's relationship can read like a case history—but Waldman's passion and affection for her characters shines through. (Oct.)
Forecast:A 50,000 first printing and eight-city author tour might seem ambitious for this rather modest novel by Waldman (who is married to Michael Chabon), but the book comes festooned with an impressive array of blurbs (from Glen David Gold, Dave Eggers, Dorothy Allison and Amy Tan, among others).