Saturday, June 09, 2007

Beauty Shop for Rent

Bowers, Laura. 2007. Beauty Shop for Rent. 328 pages.

Abbey Garner. A fourteen-year-old (almost fifteen) girl who spends most of her time hanging out with the over-sixty crowd. I suppose you could say that Abbey is not your typical teen girl. She's not being raised by her mother or father. She's not even being raised by her grandparents. She's being raised by Granny Po, her great-grandmother. Not that Abbey would have it any other way, not really. It's just that sometimes Abbey wonders what it would have been like to have her parents want her. I guess this feeling of not being wanted can be traced back through several generations. You see, Abbey's mom had her when she was a teen. Abbey's grandmother had Abbey's mother when she was a teen. And Abbey's great-grandmother had had Abbey's grandmother when she was a teen. All unexpected. All unplanned. Quite a legacy. Quite a lesson: men ruin plans. Men cannot be trusted. There is no 'happily ever after.' Which leads us to Abbey's rule on NO dating boys in high school. No dating boys at all. Not until she's already lived her life's dreams. You see, unlike most teen girls, unlike her friends Kym and Sarah, Abbey has no room for boys in her life. Not romantically at least. Boys are too unpredictable. Boys get in the way of your plans. Your goals. Your dreams. What does Abbey want most in life? Two things really: to become a millionaire by the time she is thirty-five, and to break the family cycle.

Beauty Shop for Rent is a book all about transformations and transitions. Her Granny Po has owned and operated Polly's Parlor for years--since her husband's death thirty years ago. But lately, Granny Po has been thinking of renting out the place. For the past two years. The sign, now rusty, hangs outside the shop. But it isn't until one autumn day when Granny Po is out with the Gray Widows playing Bingo that the unexpected happens. Gena Hopkins. A thirty-something with a dream of her own. She wants to rent the place. And she wants to turn this old-fashioned salon into a day-spa. At first, Granny Po and Abbey don't know quite what to think. After all, this salon is their hang out. It's where they live on gossip. It's where they gather to watch Wheel of Fortune every single night. But one by one, they all come to accept and welcome this change.

But Polly's Parlor's transformation into Serenity Spas isn't the only transformation going on. Abbey herself is beginning to change. Beginning to open up her heart. Beginning to think about herself, her mother, her father, and her family tree. Was it men who really "ruined" their lives? Or was it something else. Something closer to home. As Abbey comes closer to solving this family mystery, she may just learn who she really is and what she really wants from life. And...most shocking of may include a boy!


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