Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Chasing Stanley by Deirdre Martin

Well, it took this one to pull me out of my reviewing slump. I try really hard not to post negative reviews. Y'all know that. But I had to say something about this book. And I'm not really quite sure what to say about it. Except this. I really wanted to like this book. I really did. I loved Martin's first book. I liked her second book. I reluctantly liked The Penalty Box. But I don't know why I continue to read books about Jewish heroines. It's like I'm on a continuous quest to find a book that doesn't totally stereotype either the heroine or her family. Yet at the same time, something keeps me reading. And I apologize in advance for the rant that is sure to come, because we try very hard not to make this blog a forum for our personal views. So, having said all that...

Delilah Gould is a painfully shy dog trainer who meets and falls in love with Jason Mitchell, one of those hunky hockey players that Martin is so fond of writing. Jason hires her to train his Newf, who is himself a supporting character. Along the way, we meet Jason's over-confident twin (also a hockey player), Delilah's gay best friend (didn't we see this in the last book?), both families, and a host of teammates and old couples from past books.

What I liked: I liked that Jason wasn't your typical stuck-up athlete. He seemed very down-to-earth, and very sweet. He did have a few (ok, several) dumb jock moments, but that is to be expected when reading a book about, well... jocks. I loved that he beat the crap out of his teammate for calling Delilah a derogatory name. He stood up for her not just out of principle, but because he honestly couldn't believe what came out of his teammate's mouth.

Martin did try very hard not to make Delilah into your stereotypical Jewish heroine. She wasn't a JAP, but she did have very stereotypical parents. Why can't there just be normal Jewish families out there?

What I didn't like: I practically peed in my pants and keeled over when I read the word "kike" in this book. One of Jason's teammates is an anti-Semite, and called Jason a Kike-lover, as well as spouting every other stereotype in the book. I wonder if Martin realizes that were this a book about African-Americans, she couldn't have gotten away with calling the hero an "N"-lover. Her editor would have drawn the line. To Jews, the "K" word is the same thing. So why is this ok? I almost put the book down right there, but I wanted to see how she resolved the situation.

Sorry to say, Delilah never once stood up for herself with Denny (the teammate). She let Jason do it for her, even when he was rude to her face. It's a difficult situation to be in, but man oh man, she was a doormat. I don't know what else I can say about this, except I'm still utterly floored at the chutzpah displayed by both Martin and Berkley in publishing the racial slur in this book.

Now on to the families. Why are Jewish families so stereotyped? Delilah's family was totally dysfunctional. Her parents were divorced, always yelling at each other. Her mother picked at her, and she was "daddy's little girl". Mom was always concerned with makeup and obsessed with Delilah's weight and appearance. oh, and "Do you have a boyfriend?" Dad is the local TV "Mattress King," complete with the bad toupee and the 20-something girlfriend. Even their names - Mitzi and Sy? Oy. Jason's parents, on the other hand, were loving, normal folks who showed Delilah what a normal functional family should feel like. They embraced her into the family fold, never once seeming to care that their son was dating a girl who would likely raise their grandchildren Jewish. Let me tell you, people, as one who has lived that situation... it matters. (Although Martin did give them laughable names, too, I must admit - Dick and Jane. But she had them acknowledge the silliness of their names right off the bat, of course.) And Jason, of course, was totally thrown by Delilah's family. Freaked out and felt totally sorry for her.

So as I got angrier and angrier about this stereotyping, I began to think about it a bit more. My own hubby felt a bit overwhelmed when he met my family. Jewish families do tend to be a bit... louder?... than other families. And compared to mine, Bob's family is totally laid back and seemingly "normal". So is stereotyping ok? No. Or is it over the top? Yes. I certainly haven't met any Jewish families as crazy freaky as any that I've read about in a romance novel. Yet, I know why she wrote this NY Jewish family the way she did.

I can't give this book a thumbs up. Yet I kept reading. Like watching a train wreck, I had to see what would happen next. Martin's book is no worse than any other book with a Jewish heroine (the K word notwithstanding). I guess I just read it at a time when I was ripe to jump on this topic. Jews are not a freak side show, people (authors, editors, publishers). In fact, they even came first - remember?

So, here's my challenge to all you authors out there. Please... somebody write a book about a H/H who just happen to be Jewish, just like in most novels they happen to not be Jewish. No stereotypes, no loud, obnoxious parents, no dysfunctional Uncle Arthurs or Aunt Selmas. Just normal people falling in love, who go to temple on Friday night instead of church on Sunday morning. Why is that so flipping difficult?


  1. Holy mother of God! I can't BELIEVE they'd publish a book with slurs like that. Holy freaking crap! I am so glad I didn't get past the first chapter because I'd have been PISSED! Lori, seriously, you should write to the author and the publisher and tell them, "Hey, I'm Jewish, and the 'K' word just isn't acceptable." What. The. Fuck?! And honestly, who SAYS things like that anymore? I'm floored. Absolutely stunned.

    Can you send the book back and demand a refund? I think I'd definitely try.

  2. Ummm, Anne? You'd be amazed who says things like that these days. Loads of people. Belive me, I've been called that and worse. And while I can admire Martin for wanting to show how unaccetable that behavior is, I don't think this a romance novel is really the appropriate forum for it. All she managed to do was to perpetuate stereotypes, IMO.

  3. Um...if you read the N word in a book that was referencing it's use in an attempt to intimidate, not used in conversation, Is that also offensive? Or reality in the low behavior of stupid people?

  4. Gail, I would really love for this not to become a racial discussion. My point was simply that the "n" word would be unacceptable in a romance for any reason. Therefore, racial slurs aimed at any group should be unacceptable in a romance. Period.

    My bigger beef with the book was the stereotyping. And I believe that I pointed out that I probably read this book on a day I was ripe for this argument. I've heard it about Italians, Latins, AAs, and now I'm throwing Jews into the pot. That's all.

    The romance itself didn't do a whole lot for me either, frankly, which is a shame, since I really liked this author whe she debuted.

  5. Lori it sounds like the author leaned on alot of stereotype devices to write this book from your review. Too bad.

  6. I think I enjoyed her first book but gave up on her after the second. Just couldn't get in to it.

    But you know, iirc, her other books had other stereotypes, didn't they? the girl who burned incense, etc? Methinks she has issue.

    I think it's kind of ridiculous that she used the "k" word, even in that context. Horrible.

    I hadn't planned on reading this before, but I for sure won't be now.

    good rant, btw. I was totally impressed. :P

  7. Hmm, I picked up this book to buy a few weeks ago, wanting to give her a shot but I kept hearing that I wouldn't like her books and I'm glad I didn't buy it because I read one of her stories in an anthology and wasn't impressed, on top of this review, yeah I'm really glad I didn't buy the book...

    ...I loved the rant too, Lori good job!

  8. Okay first I hate to admit this, maybe it's a good thing, but I've never heard the "k" word before in my life. But maybe cause I grew up around Puerto Rican's and Italian's more. lol.

    And as for loud obnoxious families? Well hell mine is about ten times worse than your reveiw said this Jewish family is. And I'm 1/2 PR 1/2 Italian. lol. At least you get books, I've yet to see one that wasn't all kinds of ghetto about a Puerto Rican.

    I don't mean that it's good that they steriotype. Actually I'm rambling. I think my point is your right. With the Jewish as well as Puerto Rican's.

  9. I understand how you feel.
    I was VERY offended when an author used retard/retarded in a book. I was disgusted, angry, pissed off.


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