Point, Click, Love is Molly Shapiro's debut novel.
Four women in Kansas are each facing a crisis of sorts in their lives. Maxine, a successful artist married to an equally successful doctor, finds that their relationship (and sex life) is suffering. When her husband refuses to acknowledge the problem, she instead becomes immersed in the lives of celebrities, scouring online gossip sites. Claudia is angry, very angry. Her husband Steve isn't working and doesn't even try to make an effort to cook or clean their home, instead spending his days on Facebook.
"Now all he wanted to do was gather material and run to the computer or his cell phone, where he could share his thoughts and feelings with a larger, more appreciative audience." (I thought this was a fantastic line)
Annie is a successful single woman, who has just realized she wants a child. With no man in the picture, she turns to online sperm banks. And Katie, a divorcee with two kids, searches for companionship and sex through online dating sites.
"And so she decided to take care of her need for sex in the same way she took care of paying her bills, finding cheap airfare, and buying her kids' school uniforms - she went online."
Although the back cover blurb lists the women as being friends, we don't see much interaction between them. It seems that the story rotates to the next women in line every fourth chapter. Each woman's tale could easily have been a short story. As it was, I started making myself a quick chart to keep track of who was who and what their 'issue' was. Why? Well, none of the characters really stood out for me - they kind of all ran together. I never really became invested in any of them at all - they seemed quite stilted and wooden, despite the dialogue Shapiro has provided them with.
The book is touted as humourous women's fiction, but I really didn't find too much to laugh at or with. I found some of their behaviour tawdry, sad and desperate - not funny at all.
Some of the situations were completely far fetched. A sperm bank receptionist who willingly gives up confidential information to one of them posing as a reporter?
"The fact that Jill had no idea that she was doing anything wrong by disclosing Marcus's identity made it even easier for Annie. Kids today, she thought. No boundaries. No rules."
A mom who seriously considers being a paid 'Seeking Arrangement' on Craigslist as a way to support herself when she loses her job? Ick. Perhaps some of these ideas looked good in the planning stages on a white board, but they didn't make a smooth jump to the written page.
Shapiro has started with a good idea - Point, Click, Love explores how the web and online interactions impact relationships and how nothing can truly replace that face to face connection. But for me the delivery of that premise was only mediocre.
Other bloggers had differing opinions. See what Jonita thought. And Jaime.
Read an excerpt of Point, Click, Love. You can find Molly Shapiro on Facebook and on Twitter.