I really thought I had a handle on life -- then it broke off. Opinionated, straight-talking, and witty, Tee is a fly forty-something. Divorced since her daughter, Amber, was young, Tee has been handling her business, supporting herself after her would-be songwriter husband took off for L.A., and she's done all right. Organized, responsible, hardworking, and loyal, Tee went from being the first employee of a start-up purveyor of organic lotions to the right hand of the president of what became a major player in the home and personal fragrance market. But then everything changes. First, she's outplaced from her longtime job and doesn't tell anyone. Then she gives her daughter the wedding of her dreams and, after overindulging in champagne, Tee wakes up in bed with the younger best man. For the first time in twenty-five years, Tee doesn't know who she is or what she's going to do every day. Deep in denial, she continues to live her life as if nothing has changed. After a series of financial mistakes, miscalculations, and missteps compound her already shaky situation, she's soon teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. That's when Tee decides that it's time for her to wake up and face reality. Beyond making money, Tee never really decided what she wanted to do with her life. Then she just stopped thinking about it and invested her hopes in someone else's dream. Now it's her chance to invest in herself. Can she step out on faith to follow her own dream?
When it rains, it pours for Tee Hodges, the spirited, stiff-upper-lipped protagonist of DeBerry and Grant's latest. Tee, the longtime right-hand woman of fragrance entrepreneur Olivia Markson, gets the shock of her life when, shortly after Olivia dies, Olivia's daughter pink-slips her. Even worse, the bad news hits just as Tee's putting the finishing touches on her daughter's elaborate wedding. Yet even when she finds her world swirling out of her grasp, she maintains the image that she has everything together. As her savings dwindle, her employment prospects look bleak, creditors begin calling, her parents explore the possibility of divorce and friends she trusted turn out to be less than supportive, Tee begins to trust her instincts, which sharpens her confidence in her entrepreneurial drive and leads her into the arms of a doting man. This is the anti-pity party: snappy, fun and inspiring. (Jan.)
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January 05, 2009
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Excerpt from What Doesn't Kill You by Virginia DeBerry
1 ...all you can do is mop up the aftermath, dump it in a giant personal hazmat container and move on.I shoulda known better. But I guess life would be boring if we had all the answers. How about half the answers? Maybe that would have kept my butt out of the gigantic sling it ended up in.Who am I kidding? No, it wouldn't. Anyway, until the day after my daughter's wedding -- and all that champagne -- I really thought I had a handle on my life. Then it broke off.But if you can't drink champagne at your daughter's wedding, when can you? Amber's wedding -- it's been two years and it still seems impossible she could be married. My little girl looked so beautiful I had to pinch myself to keep from boohooing. That day she and J.J. -- Baby Son-in-Law I call him, because he still has a face like his fourth-grade picture -- made a whole bunch of promises to love, honor and put up with each other's mess. Then she wasn't my little girl anymore. She was J.J.'s wife. My own vows didn't hit me that hard.In the limo after the ceremony I popped the cork on one of those cute little champagne splits to calm my nerves. Not that I was nervous like test-taking nervous, but your only daughter's wedding does fall into the major life-change category -- those events that give us gray hair and stress us out, like moving, losing your job, grinning and bearing it while dealing with your ex-husband and his wannabe diva girlfriend for three whole days without slapping either one of them. Besides, I knew the bubbly would help me smile through all the picture taking even though my feet sizzled like raw meat on a hot grill, thanks to those very cute, very high shoes Amber talked me into because they looked so sassy with my lilac dupioni silk suit. And I looked damn good, thank you very much. Better than J.J.'s mother in that tired blue ruffled muumuu, and let's not even discuss that woman Amber's father paraded around. I mean, who wears a miniskirt and thigh boots to a wedding? Don't take my word. Check out the video. I looked great -- way too young to be the mother of the bride. Except for that corsage.I hate corsages. They're for old ladies who wear mink stoles and musty dusting powder. That will not be me. Ever. The last thing I needed was a big, sloppy orchid planted over my double Ds. Why do you think I wear this minimizer harness? But Amber just about had an ing-bing at the florist's -- you know, one of those fits like she used to pitch when she was two and she didn't approve of my day-care wardrobe selection. Ever try explaining to a two-year-old that the pink flowered pants are in the dirty clothes and she should be thankful she has something clean to wear, since Mommy has been featuring the same tired black skirt every other day for two weeks and scraping together enough quarters to hit the Laundromat by the weekend because the check for the used-car-dealer jingle Daddy wrote is still "in the mail"? And that she needs to get her skinny behind dressed, since Mommy is ready to scream because she doesn't want to be late for work again? You can't. So somehow I'd manage to tease, trick or threaten her into her clothes and I'd wash out the pink pants that night by hand, which pretty much guaranteed the next day she wanted to wear her jeans with the stars embroidered on the back pockets. We sure came a long way from those days.So I wore the corsage, because Amber has always had first-class taste, thanks in no small part to good home training, because I love her more than anybody in the world, and because arguing with my daughter can be like convincing a pit bull to let go of your leg -- which isn't a bad quality. Early on I made sure she learned how to stick up for herself. Besides, it was her wedding. OK, their wedding.It's just that I wasn't ready for anybody's wedding. Oh, I was used to the two of them hanging around the house, from the time they were in high school, and all through col