Review – She Effin’ Hates Me by Scarlett Savage

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Synopsis

Molly has arrived home from Vassar to reveal that she has an important announcement to make. Her mother, Suzanne, is convinced that Molly’s news is history repeating herself — and that she’s about to become a thirty-six-year-old grandmother. Suzanne’s mother, Ava, develops a case of impending great-grandmother fever—that is, when she’s not spying on the new next-door neighbor, Buddy McKinley, who turns out to be a blast from her past.

Decades earlier, Buddy was the business partner of Ava’s late husband, as well as his best friend during the Vietnam War. Ava feels she has good reasons for hating Buddy—she blames him for the fall of their business, an Irish pub that was a staple of the community. The loss not only destroyed her husband but also pushed her headfirst into the vodka bottle.

Suzanne eventually finds out that Buddy and Ava’s past goes back much further than either has admitted. She begins to wonder whether Ava truly hates Buddy, or whether her feelings are much more complicated, as are her own when Molly announces that she’s not pregnant, but gay.

Based on the award-winning play, She Effin’ Hates Me is about three women relearning to love one another for who they are … and more importantly, for who they’re not.

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 Christina’s 4 Star Review

Suzanne is thirty-six years old, the mother to an eighteen-year-old daughter, Molly that is getting ready to head to Vassar for her freshman year. Suzanne has also just left her husband of eighteen years and has moved back in with her recovering alcoholic mom, Ava while she figures out how to put her life back together. One weekend, right before school starts, Molly comes home and she has a big announcement to share with the family; she also has her “friend” Brandon in tow. Suzanne is afraid that Molly is coming home to announce she’s pregnant, repeating the mistakes she made in the past, ending up just like her.

Molly has watched her mother work herself day and night in order to provide for the family. Steve, Suzanne’s soon-to-be ex hasn’t worked a day in his life. He’s a self-proclaimed “musician”, which means he stays in his home studio all day while playing on his synthesizer doing bong hits. It’s only when Molly has graduated from high school that she is able to finally leave Steve and go on with her life. Molly has convinced her to go back to school and finally make the life for her that she deserves.

Ava is in her early sixties and she’s one, hot, grandma. She does yoga, stars in the stage shows produced by the senior living village in which she lives, and goes for daily walks. She’s been sober for seventeen years, finally getting her act together for the sake of Suzanne and Molly. She is a widow, her husband and soul mate Jimmy dying years before, and she is ready to get back in the dating scene. She is active in AA as well as meddling in the affairs of her daughter. (That’s what moms do, right?)

While the dynamic between the three Applebaum women (Applebaum being Suzanne’s maiden name) is funny enough in its own right, Ava suddenly finds herself with a new next door neighbor…a man that happens to be her dead husband’s best friend named Buddy. She hates Buddy because she blames him for losing the restaurant and bar they used to co-own. She has never forgiven him, even though there is far more to the story than either Suzanne or Ava knows.

She Effin’ Hates Me is a story of lost love, new love, unrequited love, self-discovery, beginnings and endings. It has it all and it does it with humor. I enjoyed the book from cover to cover, but I feel that for as much as was going on in the book there could just be….more. Especially in the case of Suzanne, I want to know what happened next. And Ava…is it really ever too late for true love? It seems to me that if there was ever a book that was ready to be made into a series, this is it!

She Effin’ Hates Me is a solid four star read. The book has been adapted by the stage play of the same name and I can imagine that play itself would be downright hilarious. I found myself laughing out loud several time because I could see so much of my own family in this book. Ms. Savage has developed characters that women of any age can certainly understand and relate to, as well as the challenges they face in their everyday lives. The lessons of empowerment and strength are so important and the author really could take this even farther if she wanted to. I know I would be on board for more!

Comments

  1. Christina,
    You must be psychic!!
    As we speak I’m already working on a sequel; this one’s called, “She Effin’ Loves Me: A Wedding Story”!
    It’s exactly four years later. Buddy&Ava are planning their “Very-Small-Because-Nearly-Everyone-We-Know-Is-Dead” wedding, but squabbling much of the time because neither one wants to give up their house, but there’s more underneath the squabbles than just real estate. Suzanne is on her way home from her senior year abroad in Paris, where she dated a maitre d’ named Jean-Luc for six months (Ava disapproves until she find out Jean-Luc’s also a student, & that in France, being a waiter is a highly respected career–either way it’s a step up from her unemployed ex-husband). But alas, Jean-Luc’s benefactors have paid for him to study at UCLA, and “long-term relationships are just an exercise in futility…but, it was nice while it lasted.” Moving on, she says she’s not only learned a second language, she’s finally gotten her degree in public relations,&plans to open her own firm, with Laura’s store “Goddess Treasures” as her first client (in fact she’s so inspired by Laura’s success she names her company “Goddess PR”). Molly &Brandon have gotten their undergraduate &doctorate degrees respectively, and are now coming to spend a few months with Buddy&Ava, to help out with their wedding, and to establish their counseling center (Brandon is officially a psychologist, becoming the “Dr. Ellis” he joked of being in the first book, and Molly will be a counselor to gay, bisexual, and transgender kids as she considers whether or no she herself wants to pursue a doctorate).
    When they arrive, they tell Buddy&Ava they want to wait till Suzanne arrives because they have a “big announcement” to make. Buddy&Ava laugh, thinking they’re joking; Buddy tells them that if they plan to come out again, it’ll be “kind of anti-climactic this time, since you already did”. They start getting everything ready for the “Welcome Home/Last Cookout of the Season”, and still laughing about it as Suzanne gets out of a cab from the airport, wearing several scarves, her pants tucked into her boots (“It’s THE look in Paris–I’d forgotten this look is sort of over here,” she explains.) After Suzanne puts her suitcases in the house, Ava explains they’re laughing about the phrase “big announcement”, back when they all thought history was repeating itself and Molly was going to be an eighteen-year-old mother, just like her mother Suzanne was. Instead, Molly&Brandon came out, at a family gathering much like this one, as they’d met at a PFLAG meeting during Molly’s Freshman Orientation, and decided to help each other come out to their families together. Brandon agrees how funny that was, and comments it’s ironic, because “the last time you thought we were going to tell you we were pregnant, and instead we told you we were gay; this time you joked we’d re-tell you we were gay, and we’re actually pregnant!”
    As they both had young parents, they both wanted to BE young parents. To be able to start their demanding careers and still have enough energy to play for hours with their little one in the evenings; Molly points out she’ll only be working part-time anyway, and can do the administrative work she plans to do for the counseling center at home. (When Buddy frankly asks how it happened, Brandon explains, “When a Gay Daddy and Gay Mommy love each other VERY much, Gay Daddy goes into the bathroom with a mini-DVD player, a Chris Hemsworth move, and a Dixie cup; a few minutes later, Gay Daddy gives Gay Mommy said Dixie Cup, who goes into the bedroom with a Turkey baster and a Melissa Ethridge CD…”)
    In the next two weeks, Buddy&Ava have told nearly the entire retired population (plus the AA crowd) that they’re going to be grandparents. Molly meets a girl named Benji who very quickly becomes someone important to her–and who seems to be doing her best to squeeze Brandon out of the picture, or at least so it seems to Brandon. Suzanne spends every waking moment taking care of Molly, researching and making special pregnancy foods, shopping for the baby, enrolling Molly in prenatal yoga, LaMaze class; “being there” for Molly to the point where Molly begins to wish she were somewhere else. When one day–seemingly in answer to Molly’s prayers–a cab pulls up in front of Ava’s house, where they’re currently camping out (although Suzanne has been house-shopping, looking for a house either big enough, or “privacy-orientated” enough for their “incredibly nuclear family”, heavily hinting that she is desperately hoping to live with Molly, Brandon, & the baby). Out of the cab is an incredibly handsome, very charming, and “no-older-than-twenty-seven-at-most” young man, as observed by Ava…it’s Jean-Luc. “I explained to my benefactor I’m in love, so they agreed to continue paying for my education if I transferred to UNH, despite it being a ‘lesser school’ in their opinion,” Jean-Luc tells them. “If there’s one thing a Frenchman understands, it’s love.”
    Molly’s relieved, not only because her mother will have something else to do…and she, Buddy, and Ava are relieved that Suzanne might actually have another chance at love (although she can’t help teasing her mother that “your boyfriend’s only one year older than my Baby Daddy”). But to everyone’s dismay–especially Laura’s, who feels Jean-Luc was the direct result of the spell she gave Suzanne four years ago–Suzanne does her best to discourage Jean-Luc…just as Brandon seems to turn down every handsome young man who asks for his number, or sends him a friend request.
    While Buddy and Ava struggle to figure out why their loving and passionate relationship gets increasingly bumpy every time they discuss the subject of houses, and begin to realize that since they’ve both been living independently for a long time. The idea of sharing space permanently isn’t necessarily what’s scary–it’s the fact that since sooner or later one of them is going to lose the other, is it smart to give up independence when they’re only going to wind up there anyway?
    Toward the end of Molly’s first trimester, she & Benji grow closer and closer and she feels happier, more fulfilled personally and professionally than she’s ever been, and according to Buddy, “you look more beautiful pregnant than most women do when they’re not knocked up”. But Brandon gets more and more anxious about how long Benji will be around, and the role she hopes to play in their child’s life; Suzanne is bordering on the manic trying to do everything for everyone else while shoving away any kind of a personal life with both hands. So, in a cold, hard world where finding real love is about as likely as picking the winning lottery numbers, why is everyone Molly loves pushing away it with both hands?
    :) :) :)
    If you want to know how it works out, read the book!!! And talk “She Effin” up enough so that your friends all buy it!!!

  2. I finished reading this book a few days ago. I really loved it. As each character was introduced lnto the book, I found a connection with each of them. Each situation in this book is so “real life” that I couldn’ put it down. The humor had me laughing outloud (and Its been awhile since a book had that effect on me). My only request is that this continues… Either by way of a Part II, or a movie (which would be hilarious with the right actors). Great job, Ms Scarlett! i will be watching for your next project!

    • Thanks Lisa B!! Read below, & you’ll see I’m working on the sequel as we speak, as well as a Y/A book called “The Chosen”…it’s sort of a “The Stand” but for only a small group of American teens, all of whom are highly intelligent, and most of whom possess a talent of some kind (chess, computer skills, athleticism, etc.)
      Thanks again for your enthusiasm!!

  3. Christina, I’m so enchanted with your website, I’d like to write an “about the author”; I looked for an email address for you, but couldn’t find one, so I’ll just post it here, is that okay? (I’d like to send you the play version of “She Effin'”; as well as a couple of others.)

    “Scarlett Savage is a multi-award-winning playwright from New Hampshire. Her most well known black box and off-Broadway plays include “Dear Daddy, Love Cassie”: “She Effin’ Hates Me: A Love Story”; “I AM A GIRL!!” (the y/a play that was the 2008 Dramatic Presentation at the Girl Scout National Jamboree); “Not This Girl, Not This Day”; “My Sister Jake Is Dying”; “Chase a Killer, Catch a Killer, Run, Run, Run…” She is the winner of such prestigious awards as HBO’s Wavy Lines New Writer’s Project; The Jane Chambers Feminism in Playwrighting Award; the Arnold Colbath Excellence in Directing Award; the Spotlight of the SeaCoast Award, the NH Theater Award, the New England Professional Theater Award; the New England Drama Desk Award, among many others.
    She is currently at work on the sequel to “She Effin'”, called “She Effin’ Loves Me: A Wedding Story”; “The Chosen”, a y/a novel in the same vein as “The Hunger Games”, about a small group of children who are the only survivors after a plague wipes out the rest of the human race; and her pilot, “Thinking With Your Ring Finger”, loosely based on her close friendship with her ex-husband’s first wife.
    She currently lives in LA with her husband, artist and world traveler Mike Biggie; she has two daughters, 16-yr-old Daphne Juliet Ellis (straight A student with several scholarship offers to colleges, a ballet dancer, artist, writer, musician whose word can be heard on SoundCloud under Daphne Juliet, and actress who happens to be 2013’s Miss Maine’s Outstanding Teen), and 9-yr.-old Jessica Juliet Savage (also a straight A student, writer, and brilliant artist.)

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