October 22, 2012

Four of a Kind by Valerie Frankel

You had to check, fold, call, or raise each hand based on limited information, previous experience, and gut intuition, and accept the consequences of your bet, regardless of the outcome. Play smart and bold, no matter how many chips you hold. Leave nothing on the table
-from Four of a Kind by Valerie Frankel

Four of a Kind by Valerie Frankel is a poker themed novel about how four unlikely friendships blossom in an unconventional way.  Bess, Alicia, Carla and Robin are four very different women on the diversity committee at their children's private school. Bess is an insanely rich, beautiful, blonde housewife married to a gorgeous professional who loves her very much; Alicia is a hardworking copywriter in a sexless marriage whose son is attending the private school on a scholarship; Carla is a driven and serious black doctor at a local clinic who dreams of one day opening up her own practice; Robin is a formerly-obese single-mother who isn't afraid to speak her mind on everything except the identity of her daughter's father. In order to get to know each other, the four women begin playing poker; instead of betting money they bet their own secrets. Through their poker meetings, friendships begin to blossom and their diversity pushes them beyond their comfort zones, helping them face fears and make changes they never could have done alone.

This book is a great example of something I didn't particularly love but might end up being your favorite book. Overall the novel was well-written and there wasn't much to complain about, I just wasn't entertained enough by the women and their stories to love it. Each chapter alternates its focus on each of the four women, and I think this made it too difficult to connect to deeply with all of them. Every time I felt a connection, the chapter would end and it would be too long before I heard much from that character again.

The individual stories were interesting and each of the characters blended well with each other. I enjoyed reading about Bess most, but it felt like there was more time spent on her (I could be wrong). Because the individual stories were enjoyable and complemented each other but felt too abbreviated by alternating chapters, I think this book would have done better as a series.

My biggest complaint about the whole book is that there is a poker guide appendix -- at the end!! I am not a poker player but know enough about card games that I figured the book would make enough sense without doing any research. However, I think better knowledge of poker would have made this book much more entertaining. My copy {Kindle Edition} had an appendix at the very end that gave instructions on how to play poker and I about fell out of my seat when I saw it. This would have made a WHOLE lot more sense at the beginning of the book! If you're going to read this, please check that out first if you don't know poker!

Bottom Line: I wouldn't recommend this book but I wouldn't warn you about it either. I'm completely lukewarm about it but can understand if someone else were to love it. If you're considering reading it, I would read other reviews to get a better sense if it's for you or not. 3/5 Stars.

I think the most fun part of this book was mentally casting it {big surprise coming from me, right?}. My cast is 5-10 years younger than the characters, but in Hollywood they would just alter the script. :)

I would cast January Jones as Bess, Emmy Rossum as Alicia, Gabrielle Union as Carla and Isla Fisher as Robin!

P.S. Happy birthday Zac Hanson. lol. /random

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