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Everyone Else's Girl    by Megan Crane order for
Everyone Else's Girl
by Megan Crane
Order:  USA  Can
5 Spot, 2005 (2005)

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* *   Reviewed by Melissa Parcel

Meredith McKay decided years ago to leave her hometown of Hoboken, New Jersey and all of the high school headaches and drama behind her. She hasn't broken ties, she just made a life for herself in Atlanta. Now her brother Christian is getting married to her ex-best friend Jeannie, and Meredith returns for the bachelorette party and other pre-wedding events. What is it about coming home again that reverts us to high school memories and behavior, even ten years later?

As Meredith gets ready for her return to Atlanta and normal life, her mother takes off on a six week dream trip to Europe. Unfortunately, her father is involved in a car accident on the way home from the airport and a severely broken leg leaves him unable to take care of himself. Meredith's younger sister Hope, who recently graduated from college and is home to regroup, isn't willing to help much, and Christian is too busy with work and wedding plans. Meredith decides to take a leave from work and sets herself up as the nice, helpful girl everyone things she is. But is Meredith really that person?

The story starts off slowly. After Meredith takes on the martyr role to care for her father, I was ready to chuck the book and tell her to grow a backbone. But fortunately, that's where the plot was headed and exactly the lesson Meredith was to learn over the course of the next two hundred pages. What begins as a standard plot about family becomes a deeper look at self-discovery and making choices with the help of family, not in spite of it.

One irritation for me was that the tension between Jeannie and Meredith is palpable and lasts through most of the novel. The reader doesn't discover the 'straw that broke the camel's back' moment until very late, and it's anti-climactic when revealed. Though a minor part of the story, it bothered me to have this unknown hanging around when it wasn't that big a deal. However, the dynamics between friends, family, and even neighbors with Meredith make for a very well-rounded character study.

Over-riding all these themes is the idea of coming home - are we adults, or do we become teenagers again when we are in our parents' home? Everyone Else's Girl provides both food for thought and head-nodding-in-agreement humor. Megan Chance's sophomore effort shines with reality and drama, all developed through detailed characters and situations.

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