“From A to Zoe” by Marie-Jo Fortis

This sparkling novel combines elements of “chick lit” with more “serious” themes (although I would argue that the much-maligned genre of “chick lit” is chock full of serious themes), as our heroine, aspiring author Zoe, or Z Z, faces down relationship troubles, cancer, and being framed for murder. That’s a lot to fit into such a brisk read, but Zoe bounces irrepressibly from adventure to adventure, and the pace rarely feels rushed.

The book contains a lot of the goofy humor you would expect from an Evanovich novel, say, or something by Sophie Kinsella–Zoe has adopted a rat who, it turns out, has escaped from a lab, and during one rather absurd scene has to protect him from his erstwhile owner, for example–but it is also metaliterary in a somewhat unexpected manner (shades of Carrie Bradshaw??), as Zoe writes, among other things, about her writing and her rejection slips. The prose style is, as I mentioned above, sparkling, with lines like “In lieu of the Big Apple, right now I would much prefer a more sizable one, a red delicious, if possible,” but also has a more “literary” feel than you often find in similar books, with the aforementioned metaliterary moments (“I digress, sure, but digression is what a writer does for a living”) and Zoe’s vivid use of metaphor and simile. Readers who just want candy may not appreciate it, but readers who are looking for chick lit for smart chicks are likely to enjoy this book just as much as I did.

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