THE NINE MONTH PLAN
Wendy Markham


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Warner Forever, August 2003
Reviewed by Sissy Jacobson

Nina Chickaliniís mother died the year Nina graduated from the local Community College. As the oldest child, it was Ninaís place to take over raising her brothers and sister, including newborn Ralphie, plus take care of Pop, keep house, and help run the family pizzeria. She never intends to marry or have children. Sheís done her share, thank you. Having spent all of her thirty-six years right here on Thirty-third Street, she wants to experience life outside of Queens, New York. She has had a plan for years, and now she can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. With one brother married and stationed in Germany, one brother already in college, her sister getting married in a few months, and sixteen-year-old Ralphie graduating from high school next year, she will be free to pack her bag and follow her dreams. This time next year she plans to be on the French Riviera.

Joe Materi and Nina have been best friends and next-door neighbors all their lives. Joe works in the financial district in the city, and has accumulated enough wealth to retire at this early age of thirty-six if he so desires. Since his parents have moved to Florida and left the house to Joey, he has been even more a part of the Chickalini family than ever. But now that he has accomplished so much, he feels something missing in his life. He wants a wife and family. After talking it over with Nina, they canít decide on anyone who would be a good wife for Joey. Of course Joey compares everyone to Nina, but he knows all about her plans. Sort of half jokingly he suggests Nina has time to have his baby, then turn it over to him to raise, and she could go on with her plans. After all, he would be a wonderful father.

Up to this point in the story, the plot is fast moving, has hilarious moments with snappy, realistic dialogue and scenes. It made me feel like I was standing in the middle of this big, boisterous, blended Italian family observing everything in person. Unfortunately, for some reason the story starts to fizzle. It begins to go around and around in a circle. Nina could give Joey a baby. She has time to have one and still leave on schedule. And after all they do owe Joey. He did save Popís life when he had a heart attack by giving him CPR until the ambulance arrived, then paid the hospital bill. And she does want to experience life to the fullest; being pregnant and giving birth is part of that experience. Joey would make a great father. But no, Nina canít do that. But then again maybe she will. Then she gets pregnant the old fashioned way, they find they really like that part, so they keep practicing after sheís already pregnant, but remember sheís leaving. Or can she leave the baby once itís born? Of course she can, canít she? And on and on it goes until you want to hit Nina over the head with the book.

The first part of THE NINE MONTH PLAN by Wendy Markham really starts off great. But thenÖ what happened? It not only has a sagging middle, it sags all the way to the end. The author proves her talent in the beginning of the book, but why didnít she sustain the momentum to the end? Pick up a copy of THE NINE MONTH PLAN by Wendy Markham and decide for yourself what you think of this reviewerís viewpoint. Unfortunately I havenít read the other books written by this author, so I have no way of comparing this book to her previous ones.

 

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