Karen Karbo is the author of three novels, the most recent being Motherhood Made a Man Out of Me. She is a contributing writer to Sports for Women and a journalist for several other magazines.
Providing solace, advice and commiseration for anyone trying to make sense of a family tree gone haywire with divorce and remarriage, this hilarious latest effort by novelist and journalist Karbo (Motherhood Made a Man Out of Me) is like a fresh breeze setting everything right. From the first page, she grabs her readers by the shoulders and gives them a good, hearty shake, advising them, for example, that when one has to coexist with one's own ex, spouses' exes and the children of the various unions, "failing to know when to shut up is a genuine liability." Most importantly, she advises, one should fall silent when compelled to speak uncharitably about one's ex to the child one had with that person. In fact, Karbo emphasizes, many exes stay locked in old patterns for the sake of their children, resulting in a limbo she terms "divarriage." Of course, children can also provide a handy excuse for maintaining contact with an ex. Her numerous evocations of scenes between ex-spouses achieve an unerring blend of screwball comedy, tragic drama, feel-good fantasy and stalker flicks. Engagingly relating such incidents as the time her partner's ex-wife methodically cut up several pairs of Karbo's underwear with cuticle scissors, along with excerpts from a book of poetry by her best friend's ex-husband called My Ex-Wife Looks Like Ginger Rogers, Karbo makes ample use of her narrative instinct and canny eye for human foibles. (Apr.) Forecast: Dozens of self-help books on divorce have enlivened the market, but Karbo's contribution is a new breed. If she's half as engaging in person as she is on the page, her national author tour could help the book earn big sales. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Karbo, a journalist (Sports for Women), novelist (Motherhood Made Me into a Man, LJ 7/00), and divorce, bemoans the lack of divorce books that cover subjects such as how to treat one's ex-anniversary, equitably sort out child care duties, and deal with an ex's possessiveness. Having collected anecdotes from other divorces as well as providing her own, she has filled her own niche with this breezy, mostly irreverent look at what happens when two inextricably linked people suddenly come apart. From jealous ex-wives to postdivorce dating, she hits all the major minefields. Other "second wives" will especially appreciate her discussion of the convoluted relationships that are a by-product of any divorce, especially one involving children. Ultimately, however, this book bounces around too much to be much use as a self-help guide and is instead recommended for public libraries as a memoir. Pam Matthews, Gettysburg Coll., PA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.