Starting Out Sideways

Author: Mary E. Mitchell

Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books

Release Date: May 2007

Blue Ribbon Rating: 4

Format: PRINT

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Roseanna’s husband Teddy has just left her for her best friend. She wants sympathy and compassion from her mother, Helen, who instead calls Rosie’s husband a putz and tells her she’s well rid of him. This seems to be the story of Rosie’s life; her loud, opinionated, brash mother calling it like she sees it while dressed in vintage 1950’s shirtwaists. Helen sees interfering and motherly love as one and the same and takes it upon herself to set Rosie straight on everything from her weight to her marriage to her job. Rosie doesn’t tolerate this very well, and as a result their relationship is strained.

Rosie’s greatest source of joy is her work as a job counselor for the developmentally challenged. Even with her marriage on the skids, she willingly gives her all to her clients (although she does occasionally give in to tantrums and tears). One of her favorite clients, Milton, is a young man she’s helping train for his job at the SaveWay supermarket. Through Milton she meets former butcher turned store manager, Mickey “Ham” Hamilton. Helen and Milton both think the world of Mickey, and Rosie knows he’s attracted her, even with her full figure and questionable marital status. Rosie isn’t ready to let her marriage go, however, and isn’t sure what to do about her interest in Mickey.


When Helen divulges a family secret, Rosie’s world is further pulled out from under her, and the already strained relationship between mother and daughter collapses. With advice and admonishments coming at her from all corners, Rosie must decide whether she can let go of the past in order to have a future.  


STARTING OUT SIDEWAYS is an enjoyable laugh-and-cry story with heart. Helen and Rosie’s rocky mother-daughter relationship is the center of the story; their characters are vivid and unique and their interactions realistic. Rosie possesses a stubborn streak not unlike her mother’s, resulting in her unshakeable fixation with her failed marriage and the family secrets. The secondary characters, especially Milton, are well developed and add humor and emotion to the story while bringing Rosie’s character to life. This is a great feel-good read that will leave you smiling.

By Romance Junkies Reviewer: Leigh

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