Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Twisted Sisters: A Novel by Jen Lancaster

Twisted Sisters: A Novel.  Jen Lancaster.  Penguin Group (USA).  February 2014. 320 pp. hbk. ISBN #: 9780451239655.

Dr. Reagan Bishop is one very uptight psychologist, in fact obsessive might be the better word, although she’d be the last to acknowledge that reality.  Claiming to come from a very unmotivated family (although her parent’s political connections certainly belie that perception), Dr. Reagan has scratched and clawed her way through high school, college and then through the Pepperdine program in which she earned her Ph. D. in Psychology.  Although she tends to be very professional with her co-workers and patients, she’s really quite funny in the asides she thinks about the people or situations in which she finds herself.  But now, after several years conducting a private practice, she’s a star on a Cable TV reality show, I Need a Push, about dysfunctional adults who need Dr. Reagan’s help.  Trying to help patients who really need long-term therapy is quite a conundrum on TV – Dr. Phil’s 60 minute cures or near-cures are not very realistic!

Now that’s about to change when her boss, Wendy Winsberg, sells her program to network TV.  The new executive producer however wants cures within minutes and dramatic scenes about the problem and the high point conflicts that arise in therapy within every show they film.  In between that huge problem is Dr. Reagan’s family and her constant carping about how fat, lazy and stupid her sister Geri is.  The reality is her parents seem to have favored Geri all her life and treated Reagan like an afterword.  As a matter of fact, her mother still berates her for her treatment of her siblings as rude and unnecessary.  Dr. Reagan is definitely suffers from a victim complex but doesn’t have a clue – at least not yet!

So who would expect her new friend, Deva, a lover of New Age trends, trinkets and techniques, to become Dr. Reagan’s salvation when put in several tight spots, with the assistance of a few pills, hypnosis, amulets with accompanying appropriate chants, and/or whatever it takes? And who’d expect her executive producer to wind up inviting Reagan’s sister, Geri, to be part of their team?  Would you believe that the sisters get to swap lives for a very brief time?  What they each experience is better than any shrink or psychiatrist could achieve in six million (let alone 60 seconds) hours of therapy!!!

Jen Lancaster is a clever writer who while being a humorous commentator also manages to seduce the reader from admiring Dr. Reagan to realizing how in need of help she really is, gradually, after one’s attention is drawn away from the off-beat, looney people she works with.  At times it’s not too hard to figure this book is full of “psycho’s” in the many different ways one may define that word.  But psycho, at least the way the author depicts it herein, is actually just a need to realign one’s understanding and expectations about other people.

Twisted Sisters: A Novel is a comedic, satiric, and clever novel that’s a fun read, with some delicate enlightening moments here and there and everywhere within!  Some light reading that’s fun and very apropos for today’s generation!

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