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Reviewed by Jon Michael Miller for Readers' Favorite
Mask On by Lisa Creech Saleh is a realistic and delightful reminiscence of the year of the pandemic as seen through the eyes of the “mom” of a “normal” family in Raleigh, NC. The narrator writes through the eyes of Nana, a restaurateur and mom of five, trying to make sense of and survive the year 2020. Along with family matters, the book is in journal form with each chapter dated and the historic events fairly and accurately reported as received in a typical apolitical household. The outright star of the show—and a radiant one—is Nana’s grandchild Petunia, 14, the daughter of parents in the stage of separation. The dialogues between Nana and Petunia are charming, hilarious, and deeply touching; in a word, priceless.
I found Ms. Saleh’s recounting of history as it came to us live through the media refreshing in its neutrality. Nana defines herself as a “liberal Republican and conservative Democrat" which meant to me that, like so many of us, she simply wants people to get along. So, this book gives us a direct and uncomplicated picture of events filtering into a regular home as its members watch TV, go to school, conduct business, and banter with each other. And as I kept glued to the pages, I wondered how the author managed to record so stunningly accurately the mind and speech of a 14-year-old. The overall prose of the book is direct, clear, entirely without literary flourish, but I tell you, the dialogues are out-of-this-world true, right on, and … wait, here’s a direct answer from Petunia when asked what person influences her most: “The person who influences me most is me!” Regarding our contemporary history, Nana finally says, “I had to separate myself from the TV.” I can honestly see Mask On by Lisa Creech Saleh becoming the national anthem of our pandemic year, 2020.