Author Anthony Paull follows up his clever coming-of-age novel, "Outtakes of a Walking Mistake," about an incorrigibly optimistic high school teen, with "Desperation Lingers," a funny, touching and atypical tale of a neurotic middle-aged widow who learns valuable lessons in romance, friendship and family while searching for her birth mother.
Dee Lingers is in her fifties, thrice-divorced, her fourth husband died, she works as a guidance counselor at a Miami school for troubled teens where her hopes to teach are routinely crushed, and she has been having an on-again, off-again affair with the principal for two years. It is no wonder then that she drinks to excess and often has suicidal thoughts.
We first meet a drunken Dee having taken a food delivery boy hostage in her apartment overnight. His girlfriend, Lisette, attends the school where Dee works and confronts her the next day in a violent, jealous rage. Soon thereafter, an unlikely friendship (of sorts) unfolds when Dee begins teaching an etiquette class at home to Lisette, her gay best friend, Jasper, and Kitty, Dee's transsexual neighbor.
This quirky cast of characters alone makes for interesting reading, and the quick-witted dialogue drips with catty sarcasm and brutally honest banter. However implausible it may seem that the members of this motley crew would ever even cross paths, all are broken or stunted in some way, with histories not entirely unfamiliar to each other.
Speaking of history, Dee is plagued by thoughts of her shallow, vain adoptive mother, Bev Dear, so throughout the daily trials and tribulations with her job, her boss and her drinking, one saving grace is the occasional update from Jerry, a private investigator she hired to locate her biological mother. With a funeral, a botched attempt to chaperone a school event, and a not-so-secret admirer thrown in to the mix, the page-turning adventures of Dee are a race to the finish.
Whether or not you like Dee or grow to like her, especially since her behavior is not always beyond reproach, her heart is always in the right place, despite her irreverent antics.
"Desperation Lingers" is a fun, original, entertaining read, with an oddly enjoyable, colorful cast of characters.