The Sweet Spot by Amy Poeppel
Published by Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Publication date: January 31, 2023
Genres: Book Clubs, Fiction, Chick Lit, Contemporary, Vacation Reading
When Phillip gets an amazing job in Berlin he offers his rundown, but much-loved brownstone in Greenwich Village to his son and his family. What he doesn’t know is that the house will become the host for a wide array of characters and outrageous situations, including his daughter-in-law’s mother, who shows up unannounced to help out and the young woman they hire because they do need help. Then a baby left’s behind. And a vengeful divorcee tries to sabotage their lives. Oh, and there’s a bar in the basement. This is Amy Poeppel’s novel, The Sweet Spot.
The above paragraph reminds me of the I Love Lucy show (if you don’t know it, find it, and watch) when exasperated Cuban husband Ricky Ricardo says to his wife, “You’ve got some ‘splaining to do.” There is much ‘splaining to be done in The Sweet Spot. It’s Leo’s father who’s offered them the house, which is a godsend because they have three children and a dog and their apartment was not cutting it. His wife Lauren is a ceramicist and her designs have been commissioned by a chic Manhattan store. Olivia works at the store, but is fired after being filmed being rude to an abusive customer. She seeks solace from her father who owns the bar in the basement of Phillip’s house (not an odd setup in NYC) and ends up as the new nanny because Lauren’s uptight mother is in over her head. As for the baby and the angry divorcee, I’ll leave them for you to discover.
This degree of trainwreck could be enough to send me screaming away from the novel, but Poeppel carefully introduces each new character and situation, giving much of The Sweet Spot a feeling of recognition. Who hasn’t wanted revenge on a cheating ex, had an in-law who says they’re “here to help” but doesn’t, or found that managing a demanding job and a family is nearly impossible? It’s only after a sense of familiarity has softened the reader that Poeppel turns the heat up with unexpected house guests and outrageous circumstances masquerading as coincidence. But by that point, who cares? You’re in the middle of a wild ride, relax and enjoy it.
If I was going to quibble (of course I am) it’s that Poeppel is too kind. I’m an Old Testament kind of gal and there were characters in The Sweet Spot who needed comeuppance. But even her tender heart and tidy ending weren’t enough to keep me from enjoying this light, bright novel.
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