|Kim Green: Is That a Moose in Your Pocket?|
(Trade Paperback), ISBN 0-385-33717-5
Jen Brenner just got passed over for a promotion, and she remains hung up on her ex-boyfriend Damon. After a night of consolation drinking, she ends up with the business card of Bernie Zweben, the editor of The Meredith Gazette, a newspaper in Montana. On a semi-whim, she takes a leave of absence at her present job, packs up and moves to Meredith, where the men all wear Wranglers and getting a date takes no time at all.
Her first assignment at the paper finds Jen covering the mysterious deaths of many fish in a nearby river. Environmentalists point fingers at the local paper mill, accusing it of using unsafe bleaching processes and dumping chemicals into the river. While covering the story, she meets Steve Wald, an environmentalist, and they hit it off well and begin dating. She also meets EPA agent Bruce Mortensen, a man 14 years older than Jen. Bruce carries a lot of baggage, including a bitchy soon-to-be-ex-wife and a hostile 10-year-old daughter, Emily. But the physical attraction between the pair soon overwhelms them. She breaks up with Steve and begins a tentative relationship with Bruce.
But the fish and mill story turns ugly. First, a fire breaks out at the mill, causing damage but hurting no one. Jen's mysterious source tells her that it might not be an accident. Then someone bombs the office of the newspaper, hurting Bernie but again not killing anyone. But the morning after Jen's first date -- and mind-blowing sex with Bruce -- Bruce's daughter Emily doesn't make it to school. Someone grabbed her on her way, and the kidnapper soon sends a ransom note.
The whole story behind the mill and the fish deaths soon unravels, but it sidetracks Jen and Bruce's relationship. Understandably, he must focus on his daughter's well-being, and wants Jen to wait until things settle down. Heartbroken, she can't agree to those terms, and she wallows in grief. Her job back in San Francisco dangles a promotion in front of her, so Jen heads back to the big city. But even after renewing a friendship with Damon, Bruce still consumes her mind and her fantasies.
Though an amusing tale, Kim Green's story feels a little flat. The characters all come across as one-dimensional stereotypes, lacking emotions. The interaction between characters seems very rote and standard, as if Green wrote the book according to a formula.
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