The Joke's on Me

Fiction - Womens
310 Pages
Reviewed on 09/26/2020
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite

The Joke's on Me is a contemporary fiction novel written by Laurie Boris. Frankie Goldberg had no other option than to return home to her family’s Bed and Breakfast in Woodstock. Her grand career in acting and then comedy had ended when she watched horror-stricken from the driveway as all her possessions slid into the Pacific Ocean along with her boss’s home and tons of mud. When she finally reached Woodstock, she mastered her dread of her older sister, the perfect Jude, and marched into the B&B only to discover that you really can’t go home again. The B&B her mother and father had put so much of their life and love into had been radically changed. Instead of the families who would come up for weekends or two-week vacations to recharge, Frankie discovered a dozen of Jude’s friends calmly focusing on their meditations and breathing exercises -- in the nude. And after years of living where bodies are sculpted into taut works of art, the natural forms of the middle-aged women gracing that room were a sea change, especially to someone whose life had been turned as upside down as hers was. How would she manage to live in the same house as Jude? And whatever had happened to her mom?

Laurie Boris’s The Joke's on Me is a marvelous look at the counterculture of the latter half of the twentieth century as embodied by Frankie’s big sister Jude and her escape to a commune; her mom and dad with their dream-made-reality Bed and Breakfast in Woodstock, New York; and Frankie’s own quixotic adventure West to find fame and fortune. I marveled at the reality of the hard work that goes into running a B&B, something many of us have dreamed about as a future endeavor. Frankie’s memories of doing chores set by her mother to distract her from her obsession with watching Joey, the handyman’s son just a few years older than Frankie, kept me engaged and smiling as I read. Her efforts to engage and simply live with Jude also make this novel work on so many levels. Those of a certain age will see the two daughters’ dilemmas in dealing with their mom, the victim of stroke-induced Alzheimer’s, and currently in a toney nursing home, and will find those aspects of the story to resonate most powerfully. Boris’s characters are vibrant and alive, and her plot unreels so smoothly and fluidly, I was unwilling to tear myself away from the book. The Joke's on Me is beautifully written and a sheer joy to read. It’s most highly recommended.