Nina Stibbe takes readers on coming-of-age journey

“Reasons to Be Cheerful” (Little Brown and Co.), by Nina Stibbe

For some people, life begins when you turn 18. Whether you choose to leave the nest, or you’re kicked out, it’s a time when you’re expected to experience the world. In “Reasons to Be Cheerful,” author Nina Stibbe offers an intimate look at this uncertain time as the protagonist becomes a young adult.

In this story, Lizzie Vogel ignores the part of an advertisement that asks for a “mature lady” and applies for a job working in a local dentist’s office. She doesn’t feel the need to mention that she doesn’t have any knowledge of dentistry. (Lizzie is a quick learner.) Plus, the position includes an apartment above the practice.

The dentist is gruff and firm. He insists that Lizzie’s hyper co-worker Tammy holds his cigarettes so his fingers don’t smell like nicotine. While Tammy and her boss’ odd relationship provide daily entertainment for Lizzie, she also manages to learn a few light dentistry skills.

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When she’s not assisting in the surgery room, or answering the phones, Lizzie watches for Andy Nicolello. Andy is peculiar, but Lizzie doesn’t mind. She develops a friendship with him and as the months pass, she falls head over heels for him. She’s not sure if Andy notices, but he sure hangs around a lot for someone who may not be interested. At times, she considers herself Andy’s girlfriend. In other instances, she’s mystified about their status.

Along with navigating through teen romance, Lizzie learns to maneuver other milestones that are part of becoming an adult. She learns to drive, hosts her first dinner party and takes her first step into maturity when challenges arise.

Stibbe proves she can channel the mind of a young woman and takes the reader on a coming-of-age journey that plucks at the heartstrings of every emotion.

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