Whatever Happened to Earn?

Fiction - Humor/Comedy
350 Pages
Reviewed on 07/17/2014
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

STASHES by PJ Colando is a humorous drama centered around a Midwestern farming family. The plot focuses on two couples: the traditional but spontaneous Jackie and her micro-dairy managing husband Steve, and their unemployed son Brandon and his conniving wife Amy, the Roller Derby queen. This is a delightful comical crossover between a family drama and a drug caper. Think of a mix between Desperate Housewives and Breaking Bad, but with marijuana replacing Crystal Meth. The plot of STASHES really thickens when Jackie and Steve leave their farm home in the less-than-capable hands of Brandon and Amy to travel the USA in a Winnebago. Money-mad Amy sees this as a prime opportunity to grow a barn full of pot and snag a fortune.

Of course, complications ensue, and it is in those complications that PJ Colando’s dry comic realism really hits home. STASHES is not a quick read, but if you take the time to follow Colando’s characters through their rabbit warren of complex and hilarious woes and triumphs, the result is an utterly human representation. It feels so well-crafted that I wonder if these characters really do exist somewhere. The drama and humour in the book are definitely geared towards the two female protagonists, giving an insight into Midwestern farming life as well as discussing how different generations of women perceive the idea of tending to their families whilst also trying to succeed and afford the lifestyle they desire. STASHES is a book that will leave you nodding with a wry, satisfied smile at its end.

Anne-Marie Reynolds

STASHES - Whatever Happened to Earn by PJ Colando is a humorous look at life. For Jackie and Steve Breedon, life couldn't be any better. They have a small farm, their surrounding fields are rented and they are a contented couple. Their son loses his job and it looks as though he and his wife are going to lose their house as well. Steve comes up with the idea of cashing in some of their savings, buying an RV and travelling while their son Brandon takes over the house. What starts as a dream soon becomes reality and Jackie and Steve take off on their new life. This is two stories in one - this is the story of their adventures on the road and it is the story of how Brandon and Amy survived at the farm.

STASHES - Whatever Happened to Earn by PJ Colando was an OK story. It was mildly humorous in places, but it wasn't one of those books that I simply couldn't put down. The story was there, the characters were there, it just didn't seem to be put together as well as it could have been. It is, perhaps, one of those books that I may need to read a couple of times to get to grips with it. To be fair, the storyline was pretty good and the characters were easy to picture in one's mind. Perhaps it would make a good TV film rather than a book.

Faridah Nassozi

Parents always want what is best for their kids and are always willing to help out in any way possible to make their kids’ lives better. But if you can help your kids and also get to live out your dream at the same time, then why not? Jackie had always wanted to travel and spent countless hours daydreaming about the exciting and exotic places she wanted to be, wishing that she would one day get to actually visit those places with her husband Steve. So when their son Brandon called to tell her that the bank was going to take his home, Jackie came up with a brilliant idea that would give the kids a place to stay as they sorted out their problems and give her and Steve a chance to travel the US and visit some of those places she had been dying to see. So the kids agreed to move into the farmhouse and the parents started making travel plans, but adjusting to the new arrangement was going to be a test for both couples.

STASHES by PJ Colando is the tale of a family's strategy to survive tough economic times, and maybe even have some fun while at it. I was touched by Jackie and Steve's immediate willingness to support Brandon and Amy through their challenging times, even if it meant putting up with a daughter-in-law with whom they had never really been close. PJ Colando portrayed understanding and empathy from the parents towards the kids in way that only a parent can express. It was inspiring to see how the Breeden family always tried to move forward in the face of life's problems, economic or otherwise, and their ability to make the best out of any difficult situation.

Lex Allen

I thoroughly enjoyed STASHES by PJ Colando. This is the story of an older dairy farm couple (Steve and Jackie) who take advantage of an unlucky situation for their son, Brandon, and daughter-in-law, Amy, to fulfill their dream of a “road trip” across America. Brandon is a rather spoiled, naïve online gamer and ex-football hero who, due to cut-backs, loses his job at the local GM plant. Wife Amy is a high-maintenance, gold-digging beauty with few morals and big plans. When Brandon and Amy lose their house and are forced into bankruptcy, Steve and Jackie offer them their home and the farming business. A win-win situation, they believe, as their son and his wife have a place to live with income, and they gain the freedom necessary for their road trip. Amy’s not keen on the plan until surveying the farm and a great money-making scheme occurs to her, albeit a slightly illegal money-making scheme. While Steve and Jackie buy a recreational vehicle and plan their trip, Brandon is dutifully learning the dairy business while allowing Amy to lead him around by the nose. Amy herself is deeply engaged in setting up her clandestine operation under the dairy business cover. A situation ideally suited for humorous intrigue and the clashing of generations is in motion.

PJ Colando delivers an extremely well written, funny and often painfully accurate tale of generational conflict. The story is told primarily by Jackie and Amy, and my only complaint is the telling, rather than showing. The dialogue throughout the book is excellent; it is high-end wit and entertaining. Unfortunately, it is also far too infrequent. Often times, the narrator would tell me what someone said, rather than “showing” me what that person said. There are several sub-plots intermixed with Steve and Jackie’s road trip, as well as Amy’s plans for a new/improved dairy farm product, that fill out the story and are as captivating as the primary plot. Though some of these come to rather abrupt endings, the overall conclusion of the book is satisfying and the appropriate poetic justice is well served. While there is no cliff-hanger, there’s a strong indication that this family’s adventures will be continued. If so, sign me up for the next book.

Patricia Day

STASHES by PJ Colando can best be described as a tongue-in-cheek humorous novel. Steve and Jackie, getting on in years, own and work a farm. They have been content with their lot for decades. Then their son Brandon loses his job and it turns his world and that of his wife upside-down. In addition to this bad news, Steve and Jackie are horrified to hear that their son is also losing his house. In an effort to save his self-respect, they decide to let him and his wife Amy stay in their home and work the farm until other employment comes along. Amy is stuck-up. According to Jackie she is not ‘one of them.’ She is very hard to get to know and Jackie is not even certain she cares to. She needs to be assured that Amy will care for their home as they do so, trusting all to the hapless Brandon and Amy, Steve and Jackie buy a Winnebago (with help from Amy who works in the local bank). Their plan is to live their dream and travel the States.

Putting these basics into a melting pot sets in motion an array of impossible scenarios whereby nerves are tested, values demolished and self-respect becomes a challenge for some. You’ll join the fun and laugh at Jackie’s introspective views of those around her as she attempts to maintain her sanity – which is tested by one unexpected incident after another. As the story progresses, things and people upset what was once a normal life. Dreams fade and the dearest thing for our wayward couple is to be home once again. Things will never be the same for them or for you if you think this is a contrived tale. Many surprises occur along the way as they journey to Gracelands, New Orleans, Vegas and many other places too. Once home, they eventually discover their daughter-in-law is a marijuana grower and more. I found the story seemed long but definitely funny. Although it is an easy read, it didn’t always grab and hold my attention. I could, however, relate very well to Jackie and all that she dealt with and felt she handled all the situations into which she was thrown with grace and aplomb.