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May 12, 2024

Ten Kids, Two Lovebirds, and a Singing Mermaid by Cathy Lamb ~ a Review

by Susan Roberts

A humorous, hopeful novel about two broken families.

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book cover of women's fiction novel Ten Kids Two Lovebirds and a Singing Mermaid by Cathy Lamb
April 2024; Indie; 979-8321349564
ebook, print (352 pages); women's fiction

We've had a five-year wait for a new Cathy Lamb book and she has given her readers a wonderful gift with her new novel.  It is emotional and funny with some of the quirkiest characters that I've read in a long time.  I enjoyed it so much that I was up way past my bedtime to finish it - something that rarely happens.

It's 1979 and Annie's husband has just told her that he's leaving her and their five children to move in with his secretary - a woman who looks like Barbie.  After a huge confrontation that involves a pie in the face of the father and a water hose stuck into the window of his Alfa Romeo, he leaves his stricken children and angry wife behind. It turns out that not only did he leave but he withdrew all of the money from his account and she had to go from being a stay-at-home mom to a working mom very quickly to pay the bills.  As the dust settles, they realize that a new family has moved in next door and witnessed the entire confrontation.  The Rossi family is made up of a dad who is a Vietnam vet, five children, and his dad's sister who is happy but mentally challenged and believes that she is a mermaid.  The mother of the family had died recently in a car accident.  So now there are ten children, all of them missing one parent.  But they are kids and play is important so they join together and play in the woods, make up games, and have fantastic summer days together.  Their play reminded me of being part of a gang of neighborhood kids - our only rules were to be home when the street lights came on and to be home for dinner (for us that was when the porch light was turned on).  Like the kids in the book, we spent our days unsupervised but knowing that all of the mothers in the neighborhood were keeping an eye on us.

There are a lot of laughs in this book - mostly due to the kids and their antics.  One of the girls believes in aliens and makes helmets for everyone, another girl is interested in science and wants to be a scientist when she grows up.  There is a set of younger twins who want to be doctors and play the game Operation all the time.  They have a poster in their room of the human body and are definitely not afraid of blood.  The kids' comments are often hilarious - especially when dealing with their errant father and his new girlfriend who they all refer to as Barbie due to her body shape.  Annie is a great parent who at first is unsure of how to handle life alone until she realizes that her husband treated her like a servant and that she could now be her own person and make her own decisions.  Liliana, who believes she's a mermaid is another fantastic character who finds joy in her life and sings about it, no matter what is going on.

This book is an emotional look at the break up of a family because of the selfishness of one of the parents.  It is full of kids and fun and will make you laugh out loud.  This is the first book in the Deauville Street Families series and I can't wait to read more about this family as well as other families on their street.

Susan Roberts grew up in Michigan but loves the laid-back life at her home in the Piedmont area of North Carolina where she is two hours from the beach to the east and the mountains in the west.  She reads almost anything but her favorite genres are Southern Fiction and Historical Fiction.

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