Grace's Reviews > Time Off for Good Behavior

Time Off for Good Behavior by Lani Diane Rich
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Jan 16, 2010

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This novel is proof that the National Novel Writing Month method of writing 50k in 30 days can pay off. Lani Diane Rich's "Time Off for Good Behavior" came to be during NaNoWriMo 2002 and it is the first NaNo to be published. Kudos to you, Lani Diane Rich! You are definitely an inspiration to anyone who has suffered, er I mean enjoyed, NaNoWriMo and dreamed of it leading to publication.

The novel follows Wanda Lane, a wholly flawed and self depreciating woman who wakes up from a five day coma on her 32nd birthday after falling through a witness stand and smacking her head on a concrete floor covered in carpet while trying to take a swing at a sleazy lawyer, aka Pencil Face. Wanda found herself in civil court testifying against the company responsible for leaving the gas line open, which blew up the building she worked in and left her with burns to her face, hands, and arms and blown across a room. This is all within the first few pages of the novel, so it's quickly apparent that Wanda isn't having a great day, week, month, year, or even life.

At first, I wasn't sure if I would be able to sympathize with Wanda. She seemed too flawed for even the most empathetic and emotional person to identify with and/or care for, but I am happy to report that I was wrong. Deep down, she is a great person - full of spunk, love, and the will to change herself for the better, which she does over the course of the book. Sure, she does it so she can feel worthy of a man (her lawyer and Jimmy Stewart look-a-like Walter Briggs), which I did not like, but she does it nonetheless and reconnects with her parents, a long lost friend, while making new friends and helping her friend's son follow his dream.

I hate to classify this as a cheese chick lit novel, even though it reads like it, is the right length, and can easily be read in a couple of hours. Why, might you ask? Because the author discusses domestic violence, which isn't a typical chick lit topic. Wanda's ex husband has beaten her, locked her up for three days, and even physically hurt one of her friends. And during the course of the novel, he is on his way from Alaska to Tennessee to finish her off. The author handles the issue lightly, to keep with the tone of the book, but does so in a way that you understand the severity of it in general as well as its impact on Wanda's life. Kudos to the author for tackling the topic.

Overall, this is an enjoyable read that will leave you feeling good all over.
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