cover image Everything Nice

Everything Nice

Ellen Shanman, . . Bantam, $12 (311pp) ISBN 978-0-553-59147-7

Here’s a chick lit heroine with beauty and brains—and a bad-ass attitude that lands her in trouble. Out-of-work, out-of-love and out-of-luck, take-no-prisoners ad copywriter Michaela “Mike” Edwards faces off with a gaggle of giggly 12-year-olds in a “life skills” class. In a hilarious sendup of new-fashioned home ec, Mike rewrites the curriculum to accommodate information the charter school girls can actually use, and discovers, to her surprise, “that she cared.” Her reinvention as daughter to her widower father Gerry (who raised her solo) and stepdaughter-to-be of his fiancée, Deja, is a lot rockier but no less rollicking. Along the way, ex-boyfriend Jay (whose standup comedy brutally strips away the artifice of their relationship) and Aussie journalist best-pal Gunther help attune Mike to what she’s searching for. Shanman’s second novel (after Right Before Your Eyes ) is a gem of razor-sharp wit and impeccable timing, and though things sag in the blended extended family passages, this is a great anytime read that comes just in time for summer vacation. (July)