In Biker Shorts in New Jersey: One for the Money, Janet Evanovich
St. Martin’s Griffin, 1994
ISBN 0312362080 (ISBN13: 9780312362089)
Part of the Mysteries from Every State Reading Challenge
I enjoyed One for the Money much more than I thought I would. Written in 1994, before The Sopranos or The Jersey Shore, Evanovich’s novel portrays the Jersey stereotype in a way that has been over-satirized in the past two decades. Written two decades later, Stephanie and Morelli would have been tired caricatures like the ones we see on reality shows and in movies every day. However, because it was written before the Jersey persona had been associated with Snooki and The Situation, it is not unpleasant.
Despite the inevitable now-negative Jersey stereotypes, I found myself really liking Stephanie Plum, her biker shorts and big hair. The novel touched just the right balance between the ridiculous situations Stephanie kept finding herself in and the more serious topics of the novel.
One for the Money also focused on the topic of violence against women, at a time when it was not as popular a subject. When a book or movie touch on a subject before that subject comes into the national consciousness, one of two things can happen when you go back to revisit it: it can be either extremely perceptive or it can be insensitive and completely misinformed. This book was the former and very sensitive to issues that only came to the national consciousness later.
I liked the way this book portrayed Jersey—a little rough around the edges, but smart and charming. I also liked how Stephanie Plum was not predictably Italian, but she still has the big-hair Jersey look and eccentric family. I also liked, however, that Evanovich did not completely ignore the state’s strong Italian heritage.
The book made me want to find out more about Evanovich and I found a delightful autobiography page. She sounds like a lot of fun. From her site:
“It turns out I’m a really boring workaholic with no hobbies or special interests. My favorite exercise is shopping and my drug of choice is Cheeze Doodles.
I read comic books and I only watch happy movies. I motivate myself to write by spending my money before I make it. And when I grow up I want to be just like Grandma Mazur.”
While not the most cerebral of books, it was well written, well structured, with well-developed characters and an entertaining plot. I will definitely read the next book in the series.
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