The Bright Side of Disaster
By Lucia Nelson
Aug 5, 2007 - 9:11:10 AM

Jenny Harris knows that certain events can change your life forever. After all, she and her fiancé Dean are about to have their first baby. What Jenny wasn't counting on was two life-changing events in one week. Dean leaves to run an errand and doesn't come back, and the next day Jenny goes into labor.

Being a single mom is far from easy, especially when you're also coping with a runaway fiancé. Fortunately, Jenny has a good support system, including her mother, a decorator with a heart as big as her native Texas; her father, a doctor with overabundant charm and a crush on his ex-wife--Jenny's mom; her friend Claudia, who she met in a childbirth preparation class; and her handsome neighbor Gardner, a pediatric nephrologist-turned-handyman who seems to have a way with babies.

As Jenny and her daughter Maxie learn to thrive without Dean's help, Jenny comes to terms with Dean's shortcomings, including his bad cover band and his unattractive facial hair experiments. Just as Jenny realizes that there's life beyond Dean and that it's well worth living, Dean shows up at her doorstep yet again, asking for forgiveness and wanting to return to his old life.

Katherine Center's debut novel is heartfelt and funny, with well-written characters and true-to-life situations. Jenny is angry with Dean but not overly bitter, and the descriptions of childbirth as well as a mother's love for her newborn are very realistic. The budding romance between Jenny and her neighbor Gardner is sweet and realistically paced, and Dean is annoying but not so unlikable that you can't imagine why Jenny got involved with him in the first place. Like most of the slacker guys I know, he has his charms, humble though they may be!

There is a bright side of disaster, and Ms. Center has captured it perfectly. THE BRIGHT SIDE OF DISASTER is entertaining, heartfelt, and intelligent. If you enjoy contemporary fiction or "mom lit," you'll appreciate Katherine Center's debut novel.

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