books and reading · reviews

Book Review: Girl Before a Mirror by Liza Palmer

Newly divorced Anna Wyatt is struggling to advance in her life.  Determined to move ahead in a male-dominated advertising business and searching for what is missing from her life, she takes on a project and an unlikely ally in a new coworker. The two attend a romance convention in an attempt to make the marketing connections they need to sell the message a popular self-help book promises: Be the Heroine, Find Your Hero.  But Anna meets more than romance novel fans when she attends the conference: Lincoln Mallory, a snarky, sexy man she’s undeniably attracted to.

Liza Palmer has long been one of my favorite writers of stories about unlikely heroines finding their strength.  Her latest offering is a fresh, unique look at a woman living in a post-feminist world (I mean, sort of, whatever) trying to figure out what it is she wants.  The result is a largely successful, wholly delightful rumination on romance, friendship, and fulfillment.

One of Palmer’s strengths is in her wit.  This is on full display here, not only in the banter she allows Anna and Lincoln to engage in with each other, but also present in the interactions between Anna and her new coworker Sasha, as well as the way the two interface with the people at the convention.  It’s charming and funny and very realistic, making the novel all the more fun to read.

The chemistry between Lincoln and Anna will also satisfy readers looking for their romance fix.  The two sizzle on the page and have a genuine passion for one another in addition to displaying a tenderness that’s authentic and moving.  The scenes between the two feel very real, and their predicament never feels contrived.

Palmer attempts a great deal of commentary about the state of modern womanhood in the United States, and while some of these moments feel a bit didactic, overall they work.  Too few novels tackle the concepts Palmer explores here in a naturalistic way (or even at all), and it works as a nice bridge to readers unfamiliar with many of the ideas Palmer lets her characters explore.

This was a lot of fun and has a lot of heart.  Recommended.

Girl Before a Mirror by Liza Palmer. William Morrow: 2015. Library copy.

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