Tuesday, November 2, 2010

On Maggie's Watch Addresses Fears and Joys of Parenthood

Maggie is a woman who has been scared senseless. Her first child was stillborn just two years ago, and now she is seven months pregnant with her second. Maggie's fear both paralyzes her and forces her to act in ways she normally wouldn't. Julia, her best friend since childhood, tries to be a positive force in Maggie's life. Martin, Maggie's husband, struggles quietly with his own grief and seems incapable of being the partner she currently needs.

In her debut novel, On Maggie's Watch, Ann Wertz Garvin explores the inner and outer terrors that an expectant mother experiences. Maggie lives in constant fear that her own body will betray her again, that she or it will do something wrong and cause this baby's death, as she feels she did during her first pregnancy. She drinks icy water during bouts of insomnia, just to feel the reassurance of the baby jumping at the influx of cold liquid flowing into their bodies. Her constant worry leaks over into her relationship with her husband; despite efforts from him, she pushes away at every turn.

Additionally, Maggie looks to dangers outside herself. Unable to control what happens within, she begins obsessing about making her small Wisconsin town even safer than it already is. Maggie decides to revive a dwindling Neighborhood Watch program, aiming to take control of the baby's outside surroundings, if nothing else. She also explores Wisconsin's online sex offender database and learns that a man living on her street is a registered sex offender. Bypassing her husband and Julia's efforts to stem her obsessing, Maggie sets out nightly on a one-woman war against this man. Her vandalism begins with pranks such as cutting the heads off his geraniums, but progresses to increasingly damaging acts.

When she makes a shocking discovery about another neighbor she's become close to, Maggie is forced to face her true fears and to stop focusing on tangential issues.

On Maggie's Watch is a charming read that deals with real-life issues, yet manages to avoid feeling heavy. Both Maggie and Julia ring true as characters with both positive and negative character traits. Garvin expertly reveals just enough about the past to be incorporated into the story, without allowing the plot to become bogged down with flashbacks or long remembrances. Although in the beginning I thought that Maggie's worries might be too much for me to bear, Garvin handles those worries with such skill that I was entertained without too much panic of my own.

Hear about the book from Garvin's point of view:

Visit Garvin's website to learn more about her, including info about previous careers (most of which are entirely unrelated to writing). I was fascinated to read about the winding life path that eventually led her to write and publish a piece of full-length fiction. There is hope out there yet for want-to-be-authors, like myself! She is also offering the first chapter of the book as a preview, so you can check it out for yourself.

1 comment:

  1. This is my first review, and I must say all a new author could hope for. Thank you for reading and liking my dream come true. It is true...there is space for new writers even with little experience or exposure. Reviewers like yourself help make this a reality in these tough times.



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