Friday, July 25, 2008

By Saralee Rosenberg

You may have noticed that I've been dropping the name Saralee Rosenberg around here lately. I've been dying to carve out enough time to not only tell you about her extraordinary new book, but also about how we met and why it was so easy to become fast friends.

I still don't have any time but I'm going to tell you anyway.

Several months ago, my publicist at Avon/HarperCollins told me she planned to schedule some joint events with me and Saralee Rosenberg, another author with a new book coming out from Avon this summer. It was a new name to me, and so I did a bit of Internet sleuthing. I almost couldn't believe what I found out. She was a mom, lived on Long Island and wrote novels about suburbia that critics found hilarious and heartwarming.

I was stunned. How was it I hadn't heard of this author? It seemed nearly impossible.

But okay, it was some sort of freak happenstance, like those scenes in the movies that drive you crazy, where the two protags keep missing each other by seconds.

Anyway, I dropped Saralee an email introducing myself and couldn't wait to hear back. I really wanted to meet this woman!

And then ... nothing. She didn't respond to my email!

I always like to give people the benefit of the doubt, and so a few weeks later I wrote to her again. This time I heard back within minutes. The email was filled apologies and phone numbers. She hadn't snubbed me after all--my first message had gotten snagged by her spam filter.

Saralee and I quickly discovered we had even more in common than I first thought. We each have three kids, our husbands are in finance, and we have incredibly similar career histories. To say we hit it off is putting it mildly.

So when Saralee called and told me someone blurbing her new book, DEAR NEIGHBOR, DROP DEAD, had a scheduling conflict, I was happy to step in. Of course, I was also a little nervous. I liked her so much, but hadn't read any of her books. What if I didn't like it? What if I thought she was a terrible writer?

I needn't have worried. One page in and I knew. This book was solid gold. It's not only howlingly funny, but the plot moves along like an express train, and the characters are treated with humanity and tenderness. Saralee is such a gifted writer she even creates an antagonist that has so many layers of complexity you end up understanding the pain behind her bitchiness.

Even Publishers Weekly had to admit they liked the book! Check out his review:

There's enough suburban-mom anxiety in Rosenberg's crackling fourth novel to fuel several ulcers: worrisome in-laws, spoiled-brat kids, a husband with a shrinking income, a newfound stepson and a gorgeous neighbor whose nastiness knows no bounds. The nonstop crises in Mindy's diary of domestic disaster would easily torpedo both credibility and patience if it weren't for this harangued housewife's edgy wit and chicken-soup-for-the-soul warmth. (“Buggin' out?” Mindy fumes at her stepson. “Oh, right. Because with three other kids, a job I hate, and a failing business, I was short of things that pissed me off.”) Though hostile next-door-neighbor Beth Diamond is the presumed Darth Vader in Mindy's life, it's clear the pair have more in common than they'd like to admit, and they eventually bond and help each other through domestic troubles. If you enjoy giddy diversions, this chronicle of a long and bumpy suburban ride can be surprisingly sweet and is well worth the trip. -- Publishers Weekly

And this is no aberration. Every review has been glowing. Here's one from Booklist:

Mindy Sherman either has the neighbor from hell, or is the neighbor from hell, depending which side of the Lexus-lined driveway you’re on. While her image-conscious, nutrition-obsessed, high-maintenance neighbor Beth fails to appreciate the intricacies of carpooling, purse parties, and other niceties of life in suburban Long Island, fashion-challenged, grooming-beleaguered Mindy scarfs fast food, juggles credit cards, and lives in stained sweatshirts. Their polar-opposite approaches to life keep Mindy and Beth from being neighborly, much less friendly, until evidence of Beth’s marital difficulties are broadcast on the Internet, and her high-powered executive husband abandons her. Desperate times make for strange bedfellows, forcing a reluctant Beth to rely on Mindy’s down-to-earth practicality and supermom efficiency. As each woman faces an escalating series of family crises, a white-knuckle, life-or-death emergency brings the true meaning of friendship home in unexpected ways. Through a winning blend of hip and humble humor, Rosenberg simultaneously skewers and celebrates the institution of suburban sisterhood.— Carol Haggas

I know I make a lot of book recommendations in this blog, but DEAR NEIGHBOR, DROP DEAD is really something special, and I hope you'll check it out. Because it's so funny, people will often call it a "beach read," and that's fine. But because it deals with friendship and family and has so many layers, I think it also makes a great book club read. Trust me, you'll have lots to talk about.

And of course, if you're in the Long Island area in August, I hope you'll come to one of the events Saralee and I are doing together. Here's what on the schedule so far:

  • Thursday, August 14, 7pm
    Book Revue
    Huntington, NY

  • Tuesday, August 19, 7pm
    Barnes & Noble - Country Glen Center
    Carle Place, NY

  • Saturday, August 23, 2pm
    Barnes & Noble - Smith Haven Mall
    Lake Grove, NY

You can buy DEAR NEIGHBOR, DROP DEAD at your favorite chain or independent bookstore. To buy online, visit,, or any cyber retailer. For more information, visit Saralee's website at

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