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Leave it to Claire    by Tracey Bateman order for
Leave it to Claire
by Tracey Bateman
Order:  USA  Can
Warner, 2006 (2006)
* *   Reviewed by Melissa Parcel

Claire Everett, a single mom and semi-successful writer, thinks her life is going rather well. Her mother lives right down the street and has been a huge help in raising Claire's four children, and the kids' dad is still involved in their lives. But when Claire has to be off work (and away from her computer) for weeks due to carpal tunnel surgery, she discovers that said life is not as wonderful as she believed. Her children are belligerent strangers, her mother is moving across the country, and her venom regarding her ex-husband is unparalleled.

So Claire buckles down and makes a list of goals to improve her life - she needs to get her relationship with God back on track, re-connect with her children, and make some real-life (not e-mail) friends. The path to better relationships is not a smooth one. Claire's children each have their own issues, with her and in their lives. Has she been that out of touch with them? And Claire finds it difficult to let go of her feelings about her ex-husband's infidelity. Can she learn to yield to God and trust in Him to help her forgive?

This first in a new series is both funny and touching. The characters are realistic, sometimes uncomfortably so! Since the story is told from Claire's viewpoint, we are privy to her thoughts, which are not always full of rainbows and happiness. Claire has tough issues that take her a long time to work through. This is true-to-life, but often heartbreaking to witness. If the reader has not personally experienced a similar situation, it may seem as if Claire is dwelling too long on things that occurred many years before. But the book is ultimately uplifting, as Claire learns and grows and changes. Her life isn't perfect and although the ending is positive, it's not wrapped up in a pretty little package.

A great deal of humor lightens the mood just when the story seems to be heaviest. Secondaries are interesting and don't always behave predictably. The ex-husband's new wife is a unique character with an unexpected viewpoint. Although the book might appear fluffy mom-lit on the surface, it addresses many deeper issues that will move the reader to serious self-examination. There's a strong Christian-focused message woven through the entire plot. Leave it to Claire is an excellent start to this series and I can't wait to see what happens next.

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