“Best Bet” – a novel
by Laura Pedersen
Published 2009
by iUniverse Books

I wasn’t really sure what I was in for when I received this book.  From the looks of the cover, I was thinking it was some sort of chick book leaning heavy on the romance.  But we all know that you don’t judge a book by the cover.  I’m glad I didn’t, judge, that is.  I read Laura Pedersen’s memoir book “Buffalo Gal,” so I knew that she was fun to read.  Ms. Pederson has a great sense of humor that is carried into this novel perfectly.  In fact that’s what kept me going throughout the book, every time something heavy would happen one of the Characters (I’ll explain the capital “C” in a bit.) would blurt out something and I would be thankful I wasn’t drinking milk else it come out my nose.  The humor was very funny and at times unexpected.

The reason I capitalized characters is because these characters were Characters. Maybe that still doesn’t explain.  As I run throught the summary I think you’ll get my drift.

The main character is Hallie, she is about to graduate from a midwestern college and move in with her boyfriend Craig.  Hallie is getting her degree in graphic design and Craig quit school to start his now successful pond building business.  Their plans are foiled when Hallie finds out that the absent-minded advisor advised her wrong and she is 4 credits shy of graduating.  The school knows it is there problem and offer she take the 4 credit sociology class no charge.  Hallie was planning on moving and another option is that she could take the class at a community college and transfer the credits, but she would have to pay for the course, or she could just not get her degree.  As she is leaving her advisor’s office she runs into an ex-“boyfriend” and is presented with a 4th option.

This 4th option, to me sounds like a dream opportunity and I would not hesitate, but then I’m not Hallie, she has a job waiting for and a boyfriend that is ready for her to move in with him.  The 4th option is an independent study type of sociology class.  The professor has created a study in which she will travel around the world dropping wallets with $20 in cash in them and record the rates of return of the wallets and compare to the sociological standings of the various countries.  This would require Hallie to answer within a couple of days whether she could drop everything and travel the world.

Here’s where the characters come in.  Hallie comes from a large family and during her college years has taken up residence with some friends.  These friends are of the parental generation for Hallie but not quite.  First are 2 gay men, Gil and Bernard (right here I have to say any book with my name in it is worth reading )  Gil runs a local performing arts theater, and Bernard is always cooking some exotic recipe.  The two live together and have adopted two Japanese girls.  Bernard has taken on the training of the girls’ girl scout troop.  This troop being the first to know how to mix cocktails and what are the appropriate cocktails and snacks to prepare for any given social occasion.  Bernard’s mother, Olivia live with them and is constantly protesting or planning a protest for many political agendas.

Bernard overly frets about the safety of Hallie leaving her hometown and only offers up statistics of deaths in other countries.  Olivia, says traveling the world is the best way for a young person to know their world and their place in it.  Hallie’s boyfriend, Craig, does not want her to go and gives her the ultimatum.  Marry and stay or go and never see him again.  All this time Hallie and her siblings are shocked at finding out that their fairly recently widowed mother is marrying the church pastor.

To keep things short Hallie goes on the trip and throughout the many experiences around the world with the honesty sociology experiment learns to be honest with herself.  The return home Hallie is a changed person, yet still the same ole Hallie.  In other words there is so much going on in this book that with all the fun you have reading the various events good, bad and downright funny, you learn Hallie was not honest with herself and where she wants to be in the world.

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