Babe in Toyland
Babe in Toyland is rather more low key Chick Lit than I’m used to. It features a heroine who is easy to relate to, but it’s not a very exciting read.
Toby Morris has an unusual job working at Toyland, a large toy company. She designs the directions and models that come boxed with the toys. It’s not work Toby dreamed of doing back when she was an art major in college, but it pays the bills. Her personal life is equally uninspiring. She has no significant other and she lives with her friend Michael, a clarinetist who earns a living giving private lessons to kids. In the absence of anything exciting going on in her life, Toby fixates on P.J. Cody, the hot meteorologist who does the weekend weather at WPHX. First she simply watches P.J. Then she gets an autographed picture, and before long she’s making up weather love poems and sending them to P.J. anonymously. Her friends think she’s nuts, and Toby herself doesn’t quite know what to make of this behavior, but, hey, it keeps her distracted from the boredom of her daily life, and it’s not hurting anyone, is it?
The above plot summary was a bit of a challenge to cough up because of the meandering nature of this book. Most of the story is anecdotal – Toby does this, and Toby does that. Toby is a likable character, but, as she herself has noted, her life isn’t major motion picture material. If Toby were a cannier observer, or had a biting wit about her, or were possessed of more interesting friends, this would no doubt be a more entertaining book. But she isn’t and doesn’t. Her thoughts aren’t hard to read, but they certainly aren’t riveting. The most interesting sub-plot of her life revolves around her volunteering at the hospital on the children’s oncology floor.
Olson has a very readable style with only one annoying quirk – quite frequently she ended her chapters with conversational cliffhangers. Toby would be about to reveal something personal to Michael or her friend Kerrin, facing a possibly quite unfavorable response, and then the chapter would abruptly end. And then somewhere in the next chapter that unfavorable response would be alluded to or summed up. This was both annoying and anti-climatic, and, when the book comes to its close, even downright disappointing.
As far as Chick Lit goes, I’ve definitely read books that were more romantic. It would be a spoiler to say the direction Toby’s love life goes in, but I guessed what it would be early on. Unfortunately this person spends most of the book with another woman, and their sexual relationship is definitely alluded to. That was more than I wanted to read, frankly. And when Toby’s romantic resolution does come, it just seems odd and bereft of any sexual chemistry whatsoever.
Babe in Toyland does have a cute fuschia cover which references Toby’s out of the ordinary job. But that cover is probably the most striking feature of this decent, but largely forgettable book.