“What the hell,” Joanna exclaims, upon entering the crowded, unpleasant realm of the spirits. “I pictured something out of a Nancy Meyers movie. I follow a light through a meadow, up a slate walk to a many-windowed house with white sofas, and…all the dogs I’ve had to put down greet me and frisk around me.”
BookSparks’ Fall Reading Challenge 2016 continues on with THE NEXT (St. Martin’s Press) – INDIE NEXT November pick and a perfect novel to read this Halloween. Divorced, Joanna DeAngelis dies young of recurrent cancer surrounded by her young daughters Laney and Anna, and her bestie 90-pound poodle, Tom. But instead of getting her life in order, she’s glued to Twitter, obsessing over her former lover, Ned, a Columbia professor who left her mid-disease for Trudi, a celeb dermatologist. Once she passes on, she takes her anger with her.
“She joins “the unresolved dead,” those unable to stop wanting what they cannot have, doomed to haunt their old neighborhoods, to orbit rather than rise. Her new mantra: “Make Ned pay.”
Her fury is so extreme that it survives her death, and moves with her right into the Next world. As a ghost, she stays in touch by cellphone and the Internet. Sensed, though unseen by her daughters, her dog, and others, a truly “Mad” Joanna proceeds to use her powers to possess Ned’s body. She takes over his speech and actions in truly terrifying ways. Gangi has a blast with her undead character, who dive-bombs her own memorial service, trashes Dr. Trudi’s penthouse, and turns Ned completely social non-grata. As Ned comes to fully regret the huge mistake he can never undo, Joanna’s daughters struggle to find their ways in a motherless world. Or sort of motherless, anyway.
Eventually Joanna gets kind of bored torturing Ned and she reflects on the wisdom she’s left behind for her daughters and for us, her readers.”Rise and shine. Always make the bed. Look both ways. Don’t smoke after twenty-five. Three drinks maximum. Have fun but stay safe. Make your own money. Don’t have a boss–be a boss. Dance, in the car, in the supermarket, on graves. Barefoot whenever possible.” There’s not much funny about cancer, divorce and a broken heart, but in The Next, Gangi offers the next best thing.
Stephanie grew up in Brooklyn, attended the State University of New York at Buffalo and now lives in New York City. She got her standard poodle Enzo when she was leaving a relationship, and he helped her make the transition. Stephanie says she named Enzo, Enzo before learning of Enzo in THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN. Enzo helps her write by getting her up early and taking her on long walks where she plots her stories. For ALL things Stephanie, check her out at twitter @gangi_land or on her website http://www.stephaniegangi.com
Thanks to BookSparks and St. Martins Press for providing a copy of THE NEXT for an honest review. We have one copy of the novel to giveaway.Go up to the top of the review and in the comments area, tell us what the scariest book you ever read … not a thriller, more like a ghost story, to tie into our Halloween theme. We’ll announce our winner next Monday, October 31st, Halloween day.
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