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Seriously    by Lucia Nevai order for
by Lucia Nevai
Order:  USA  Can
Little, Brown & Co., 2004 (2004)
* *   Reviewed by Shannon Bigham

Tamara Johanssen is the protagonist in Lucia Nevai's Seriously. Tamara is a college graduate who has not found her niche in life. Her parents are deceased, and her only sibling is her successful and somewhat self-absorbed sister, Nora. Nora helps Tamara to open a modest art gallery in Dustin, New York.

Dustin is a small rural town with a population of thirty-nine people. Everyone who lives there has a bird's eye view of what residents are up to. There are few secrets in the small town, as Tamara surmises shortly after her arrival. Residents are particularly interested in the young, striking newcomer, since the concept of opening an art gallery in an old feed store is foreign to them. In particular, Tamara immediately catches Boz's eye. Boz is a wealthy, married attorney whose family founded Dustin, and his wife was Nora's friend in college. After Nora asked her to help Tamara settle into town, Boz took on this task himself and one thing quickly led to another.

The Dustin residents are quirky but not to the extent that they are unrealistically hokey or slapstick. Most chapters begin with the name of a Dustin resident, e.g. Detering (the snoopy postman) or Shirley Girt of Girt Real Estate (a local real estate agent). The chapters are bit confusing and the flow of the story is choppy, in the sense that chapters flip back and forth in time, rather than chronologically as events take place. For example, Tamara meets Detering shortly after moving to Dustin when she visits the post office, but the Detering chapter is introduced over halfway through the book.

Overall, the residents of Dustin are interesting and Seriously is based on Tamara's interactions with them. She forms unlikely relationships with several, which strengthen her and help her make peace with her past, while she finds a place for herself in Dustin. I initially expected a chick lit type of book when I opened Seriously. I was pleasantly surprised to find the subject matter deeper, and well, more serious than I anticipated.

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