Finding Miranda by Iris Chacon was an Online BookClub.org book of the Day (BOTD) on 04 January 2017. It was a completely free download from Amazon. To be redundant, the price was USD 0.00. It was not a Kindle Unlimited (KU) book. An OnlineBookClub review stated the genre was romance but with interesting twists of humor. I stay away from the romance genre but I like well-done humor so I am happy to recommend this book as hilarious. My kind of humor is understated and almost stereotypical British. This story takes place in the US but I found the humor atypical and great. I couldn’t stop turning the pages because of the humor.
The humor was not present only in language but in situations created. Miranda is in the DMV for license renewal. There is the expected waiting line which is not only long but crowded. The descriptions of who is in front of and behind her will keep a reader laughing (with empathy). She had to go to the license branch because she needed a better picture; the one on her driver’s license was the back of her head. What an absurd situation. It gets worse.
Miranda is the kind of person who nobody really sees. Not only that, when she speaks no one pays attention to her. This causes her to receive a lot of “What did you say?” responses. The reader sees this in the early pages of the book when an employee at the license branch continues to call “Next” even when Miranda is standing in front of her. We may all know someone almost like this but the humor in this novel carries it to the point of absurdity.
Miranda also wants her new license to reflect her new address. She has recently moved to Minokee, a place the civil servants can’t believe still exists. No one moves to Minokee; there is no reason to live there. Miranda has a reason; her aunt died and she will occupy the house. From there she will travel to neighboring Live Oak where she will work as a librarian. To sum up, a totally nondescript person will move to the totally nondescript town of Minokee (which means “chock full of big, hungry reptiles”) where she will commute to a nondescript job. Chacon sets this scene with humor I have rarely encountered. And then the adventure begins.
On her first day in the new house Miranda ventures outside very early in the morning to retrieve her newspaper. She is wearing a minimum of clothing for decency because she is sure no one will see her in the early hours. But she is greeted by four women, all neighbors from surrounding homes, who gather each morning to watch Shep and Dave do their daily morning run. One of the women has binoculars the better to see pectorals of the runner(s). Miranda is still outside as the runner(s) approach. She hides in the leaves of a Castor Bean Tree and is not spotted, but is smelled by the runners. It seems Miranda’s scent has overpowered the familiar scent of a Castor Bean Tree, causing the runners to stop. One of the runners talks to Miranda through the tree. The two do not see each other but the watching neighbors were impressed. At this point, there is no way I am going to abandon this book.
Up to this point, I am expecting the novel to veer off into a predictable boy meets girl, conflicts arise and are resolved, love conquers all. This novel rushes off in all directions. There is a possible murder mystery. Did Aunt Phyliss die naturally or was she killed? There can’t be an autopsy because Phyliss was cremated. But that is OK because the reader will soon encounter other murders. Then there is a corruption scandal possibility. The Governor of the State may have diverted tax funds to favorite contractors. The Governor is a brother of Hermione, who will soon appear as a major irritant in Miranda’s life.
Then we have the story of Hermione Montgomery-Strausse with an emphasis on the hyphen. Narcissistic and imperious, for her, there are two kinds of people in the world, her and everybody else. Chacon invests a lot of well-crafted humor with this character because she is a candidate to be Miranda’s future mother-in-law. Mothers-in-law are always good for a laugh but Hermione is not laughing.
There are different levels of humor in this novel. Following is one example. To set the stage, Miranda is going through the after effects of a huge crisis. She has to make a change in the direction of her life. While reflecting she has an epiphany. “Miranda resolved to take decisive action. She would charge the enemy lines; she would storm the battlements; she would fearlessly face the foe. She would make a list.” (p.156). This is not laugh-out-loud funny. I got several internal chuckles out of this. You almost had to be there (in the setting of the crisis). It is a good reason to read the book.
And finally, a language warning. A naughty language alert. The following is as bad as it gets: “Gee whiz gosh golly holy moley!”(p. 125). When this kind of language is so freely bandied about, the bar for language trigger warnings will have to be adjusted frequently.
This is a novel that ambushes readers. No description I read prepared me for how good this is. I highly recommend this for all readers from YA through adults. There are so many surprises (spoilers) in the novel it is difficult to write a review. I have tried not to reveal any of them.