This novel runs the gamut from surreal to affecting: the introductory chapters introduce readers to Josie and Delia, who have their own, self-produced horror TV show. This features such bizarre delights as dog weddings, skeleton raves and showings of films which are so bad they seem in danger of becoming cult.
Into this rather improbable-if sometimes entertaining-scenario the author inserts Lawson- a young man who cage wrestles and also falls in love with Josie. Meanwhile, Delia has problems of her own-she is desperate to trace her long-absent father to find out the reason for his precipitous departure many years earlier, hoping this will bring some closure to her and to her mother, particularly as her mother’s mental health is extremely fragile.
If readers have weathered the accounts of the recording of the TV programmes, then there are more conventional rewards. Characters begin to develop plausibly and the deep friendship between the girls is convincing, as is the gradual yet inexorable journey towards love by Josie and Lawson. There are also some very funny set pieces-not least the character of Jack Divine, the has-been presenter and Arliss, the girls’ friend who films their show. Humour is shot through with tension: Josie and Delia are in their final year before college and Josie must decide if she is going to accept an offer which will allow her to develop her career or study locally in order to be near Delia and Lawson.
Zentmer writes authentically about emotion and the ties of love and friendship and often handles humour in a deft fashion. More radical Americanisms and spelling which is completely American may deter some readers from continuing to read beyond the opening section of the book. For those who may feel daunted-there are rewards here.