Book Review, Fiction, Review, Women's Fiction

Book Review: ‘Multiple Listings’, by Tracy McMillan

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About the author:

Reviews 2016 02 18 Book Review Multiple Listings Tracy McMillanFrom the author’s website: “I’m from Minneapolis. I had a really dramatic childhood involving foster care, prison visits and multiple moms that gave me lots of opportunity to interface with some of the darker aspects of human nature. People ask me how I survived and I think it comes down to 1) Finding pretty much everything funny. And 2) Being willing to get a paper route. In winter. In Minnesota.

Naturally, my dramatic childhood led to a rather eventful adulthood, involving multiple cities, husbands, spiritual paths, and careers. If you want all the gory details, read my memoir, I Love You and I’m Leaving You Anyway. But here are the broad strokes: I wrote television news for 15 years, I got married a bunch, I had a beautiful, amazing kid, and I transitioned into writing film, television, and books.

My big television credit is MAD MEN, but I’ve also written on other great shows like UNITED STATES OF TARA and NECESSARY ROUGHNESS. I love writing television so much that even if I won the Powerball lottery tomorrow — which isn’t going to happen because I don’t even buy tickets — I would still want to do it. The only thing that could possibly make me stop is being one of the matchmakers on NBC’s READY FOR LOVE, the most riveting, photogenic, and informative dating reality show ever invented. Watch once — I dare you not to love it!”

About the book:

What would you do if your ex-con father suddenly came to visit…indefinitely? Family drama ensues when Nicki’s dad unexpectedly moves in with her, her son, and her boyfriend in this comedic novel from successful TV writer Tracy McMillan.

Reviews 2016 02 18 Book Review Multiple Listings Tracy McMillanNicki Daniels owns a home appraisal business, but real estate is her true passion: she lives for open houses and really knows her way around a floor plan. And especially at this juncture of her life, real estate has come to signify the stability she is trying to build with her teenage son, Cody, and her much younger boyfriend, Jake. She’s finally ready to find the perfect house for the three of them and work on a new business venture with Jake that she thinks will jump-start their lives together.

Meanwhile, Ronnie, a longtime inmate at a nearby correctional facility, is getting some good news for once—there was a mistake in his sentencing, and he’s eligible to get out of prison. After a sixty-day stay in a halfway house, Ronnie decides his best option to avoid homelessness is to move in with his estranged daughter: Nicki. Even though they haven’t spoken in years, her door is always open to him, right?

Inspired by the author’s life and imbued with wit and profound insight into relationships, Multiple Listings speaks poignantly—and often hilariously—about the ties that bind families of all types together.

Book review:

What makes a house a home? What makes a relationship marriage-worthy? What turns people related by blood turn into family? McMillan’s writing turned the answered to these questions into a wonderful journey. Although delving into the lives of two very unique individuals, the lessons they learn will come in handy to any who either has, yearns for, or is building a family and a home.

It seems pretty obvious to me that McMillan is a television writer—there is something so casually visual about the way she writes that reminds of how, when watching a television show, we see the background set without it being in our faces; the set is there to enhance the story. It is a hard balance to achieve, but McMillan does it very well.

Another balance the author has achieved is how to write about important topics without drowning readers in rhetoric or sounding preachy. This is how Multiple Listings is a great way for readers to gain insight being a single mom and a criminal trying to become an honest member of society. Single moms don’t have it easy, even if they are financially stable; we find this out by digging into Nikki’s psyche and figuring out how her relationship with her son, although strong, is not nearly as healthy as she would like it to be. Those who have made a mistake that landed them in jail often have to deal with prejudices against them for the rest of their lives, even if they are, like Ronnie, trying very hard to redeem themselves. It makes for some great food for thought: how are we, as a society, helping the rehabilitation of criminals?

This is the power of fiction.  This well written and very engaging book—another one I lost hours of sleep over—was both entertaining and highly informative in the way it makes you think about two types of people you might not be, a single mom or a criminal.  Maybe you have never thought about these members of society, maybe you have thought about them but can’t understand where they are coming from, or maybe you have thought about them as well as judged them for who you think they are.  Meeting characters like Nikki and Ronnie is a way not just to read and relax but offers us a great way to gain insight that can help us deal with prejudices we might have about single moms or ex-cons.

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