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Charlotte Street    by Danny Wallace Amazon.com order for
Charlotte Street
by Danny Wallace
Order:  USA  Can
William Morrow, 2012 (2012)
Softcover, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Rheta Van Winkle

Charlotte Street was written by Danny Wallace, a British author whose books include Yes Man, which was made into a movie starring Jim Carrey. This book is as wild and funny as that one was, and its main character, Jason, is also fumbling through life.

Jason Priestley may have the same last name as a well-known actor, but his life is not even close to being the same. After a disgruntled student shot at him while he was teaching in his classroom, he quit his job. Then he had problems with his girlfriend, who broke up with him. Now he's staying with his best friend Dev in an apartment above Dev's gaming shop in London. When his ex-girlfriend announces her engagement to someone else on Facebook, he falls apart completely, drinks a bit too much, and posts unfriendly remarks that get him into trouble with the ex-girlfriend, her fiancÚ, and most of his friends. The one good thing in his life seems to be his part-time job working as a reviewer for his friend Zoe's small, free newspaper.

Then an odd thing happens to him. He sees a pretty girl struggling with packages as she attempts to load them all into a waiting taxi and without thinking much about it, helps her. As the cab pulls away, he realizes that he is still holding her disposable camera. He doesn't know her name or have any way of contacting her, but he's also left with the memory of her dazzling smile. He determines that he must find her and return the camera.

His quest to find The Girl is joined by his geeky friend Dev who seems totally clueless socially, a girl Jason meets in the course of one of his reviews who also has a wild sense of inappropriate social behavior, and an ex-student whom Jason finds slightly scary. As they search for clues to the identity of The Girl, Jason begins to wonder how much of his attempt to locate her could be characterized as justified searching for the owner of the camera, and how much would be considered stalking by a normal person. Also, he becomes so involved in his quest that he even endangers his reviewing job with Zoe's paper.

This book is an enjoyable romp through London and its environs. There were a lot of references that I puzzled over because they were meant for Londoners or possibly younger people than me, and there was also a certain amount of slang which I took to be British. None of this detracted from the story, though, and the plot moved right along, taking the reader with Jason as he carried on his improbable scavenger hunt. The characters are delightful, fully drawn human beings, and we suffer along with Jason and the others as they attempt to figure out their lives, but we laugh with and at them as well. I really enjoyed this novel and wouldn't be surprised to see it morph into another movie for the author, Danny Wallace.

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