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Judith Minthorn Stacy
From Publishers Weekly
The eponymous protagonist of this homespun debut is a 38-year-old North Carolina housewife who has resigned herself to her boring, small-town existence until she suddenly realizes that she has been "sleepwalking," waiting for her husband (or someone else) to give her permission to make a "real life" on her own terms. Maggie has felt off-kilter since she broke up with her high school sweetheart, Jerry Roberts, and on the rebound married stiff, authoritarian Steven Presson, who had been her 10th grade biology teacher. Now the parent of bickering twin teenage daughters, Maggie feels she is little more than "homeroom mother and queen of the kitchen sink." The catalyst for change is Maggie's discovery that Steven has used their vacation money to buy side-by-side cemetery plots. Then she hears that Jerry will be in town for their upcoming 20th high school reunion. After a lifetime of obedience to family and society, Maggie suddenly realizes that she will never realize her dream of becoming a cosmetician, or of experiencing real love, unless she allows herself to step outside the boundaries and follow her heart. When Maggie reencounters Jerry, he is older, wiser and divorced, and the attraction between them is still potent. Maggie's transformations lead her to discover, and pursue, what she really wants: a career as a hairstylist, a new place to live and true love. By the novel's end, several characters have dramatically changed the course of their lives. Stacy has a light touch with her material, capturing the provincial ambiance of Poplar Grove, N.C., and populating Maggie's world with simple, chatty friends and quirky family members--who, however, sometimes veer toward caricature. While the theme of a woman rediscovering herself in midlife is familiar, this sweet-spirited book (winner of the publisher's 1999 Carolina Novel Award) offers a folksy, humorous depiction of growth and awakening in a Southern setting. (Sept.) FYI: Banks Channel's first Carolina Novel Award winner, How Close by Susan Kelly, was bought by Warner Books for $100,000 and reissued in 1998. Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information, Inc.