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Reviewed by K M Steele for Readers' Favorite
Patty Friedmann’s An Organized Panic takes the reader inside the workings of many families, but in this particular family the protagonists have no reason to suffer financially or spiritually from the power Ronald wields. Despite this, Cesca submits to the pressure he exerts after their mother dies. After she embarks on a harmless affair with a doctor (from Cesca’s point of view), she hides her relationship from her brother and then pursues his blessing to give her relationship validity. Ronald is a bully who succeeds in pushing every family member into a shape preordained by his own self-centred vision. For Cesca, the pressure of her mother’s death and her brother's unrelenting narcissism make her question what she considers important, but despite her acerbic wit and independence, does she really break the mould and solve the big questions her mother asked before she died? Did Ronald try to kill their mother with a salt-laden Thanksgiving dinner? Does he love money more than Jesus? Would he kill his family members for money?
An Organized Panic by Patty Friedmann is a refreshing and terribly cynical narrative about finding (and rejecting) Jesus and religious experience. In the beginning, the narrator, Cesca, and all of the children and relatives in the family are named, dissected and (if they are female) shamed. The reader is on intimate terms with everyone, including the narrator’s brother’s wife, Elizabeth, and her children. The feeling is immediate, and the reader feels the angst of growing up in a stultifying environment through Gracie, the narrator’s brother Ronald's daughter. The whole point is to prove how much power Ronald (the controller and bully) doesn’t wield, but strangely enough the narrative revolves around the exact opposite: keeping Ronald happy, regardless of his behavior.