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Skylar Cassidy’s life has recently gone down the tubes as Eight Dates begins. Separated from her partner after some unconventional propositions on Brittany’s part, Sky moves into the only abode she can afford, the outdated and run-down converted apartments known as the Miracle Motel.
As Sky tries to organize her life and climb out of the doldrums of a failed relationship, she finds herself surrounded by some interesting characters. Her next door neighbor, Rebecca, quickly becomes a supportive friend and Sky returns the favor, intervening when Rebecca’s arrogant ex-husband shows up to try to maintain control over her by bullying. Then there’s Rebecca’s eight-year-old daughter, Maya. This little girl is a bundle of energy, imagination, and cleverness, trying to make her way through her young life in the midst of the chaos of the breakup of her parents’ marriage. Maya strikes up her own friendship with Sky in spite of Sky’s hesitancy to do so and soon the little whirlwind is wiggling her way into Sky’s heart.
Mitchell Hightower, Sky’s partner in the cleverly named Sky High Computer Experts business, is flamboyant and challenging. He sets Sky up with a profile on the GirlsGalore dating website without her knowledge in order to force Sky to get a life and climb out of her proverbial dark hole. Although Sky likes none of Mitchell’s plans for her personal life, she finally accepts his ultimatum to go on eight dates in eight weeks, which leads to a string of sometimes zany, sometimes disquieting encounters with would-be partners. As Sky trudges through this long line of interactions with women that are sometimes laughable, sometimes depressing in their desperation, she often questions the usefulness of such an exercise.
As one of Sky’s more “normal” dates says of internet dating, it’s “the Theater of the Bizarre and Disappointing with a side order of big fat lies.” Fortunately, Sky still has enough of a grip on reality to discern when it’s time to extricate herself from some of the more wacky situations, from a dominatrix, to an out of shape woman who bills herself as a “fit hiker,” to a woman who actually does like hiking, but proves to be more friend than girlfriend material, to someone who refers to herself as “Franny Utliss Who Rhymes With Cutlass,” and the woman Sky terms a “speed-gabber.”
As Sky shares her encounters with Rebecca and their elderly neighbor, Norma, Sky finds herself coming to grips with her situation and begins her journey back to healing and wholeness. As the dating clock ticks down, the question is: can she actually find that special someone to accompany her into the next phase of her life?
Rebecca is a grounded character, in spite of the adversity surrounding her life as she tries to extricate herself from her broken marriage. Norma, who presents herself as curmudgeonly and not-to-be-trifled-with at first, proves to be a many-faceted woman who is full of wisdom and integrity. Maya is a delight in her energetic lunging into life. Sky is a woman deeply wounded and searching for wholeness. Reading the interactions among these characters is both thought-provoking and delightful. The writing is compact and well delivered, and the few editing issues are minor and easily overlooked. Dialogue, both Sky’s internal ruminations and that which shows us the interactions of the characters, is authentic and rolls easily off the tongues of the speakers. Telling a story in first person while keeping it fresh and exciting to the reader is a difficult task for any writer, but Lake accomplishes this undertaking masterfully—and does it with both style and wit. There are laugh-out-loud moments in this story as well as scenes filled with poignancy, honesty and tenderness. This offering by Lori Lake is quirky, funny, and refreshingly real.
By Lori L. Lake
Launch Point Press
Paperback, 9781633040007, 250 pp.