Jennifer Reese
April 04, 2005 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Breakdown Lane

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Jacquelyn Mitchard
publisher
HarperCollins
genre
Fiction

We gave it a B-

If you enjoy watching men behave like pigs, you can’t do much better than Jacquelyn Mitchard’s antic new matron-power melodrama. Spunky advice columnist Julieanne Gillis has two moody adolescents, a toddler who still needs her toast cut up, and a husband itching to rediscover his own ”playfulness” with a pretty young Pilates instructor. Few characters come so fully loaded with loathsome attributes as husband Leo, who decamps one day without leaving adequate funds or a forwarding address — both of which would come in handy when Julieanne is subsequently diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Mitchard gets off some good lines, peppering the overlong narrative with excerpts from Julieanne’s sassy column. But after the pleasure of detesting Leo wears thin, there’s only the histrionic, unconvincing story line to sustain you.

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