When I first heard about the novel Saving Phoebe Murrow a couple months ago I was intrigued. I tried to obtain an ARC at that time, but wasn’t selected as part of the lottery so when I was contacted about participating in the Blog Tour for the novel I immediately jumped on board, because I suspected this would be a novel worth talking about. This will be my first time ever participating in a Blog Tour, and I’m really excited about it!
I know this will be a long post, but it’s full of exciting things! First up, check out my thoughts on the novel, then continue reading for a post from the author herself, as well as an exclusive excerpt from the novel! And don’t miss your chance to enter to win my giveaway for your own copy of Saving Phoebe Murrow at the bottom of this post!
Title: Saving Phoebe Murrow
Author: Herta Feely
Publication Date: September 2, 2016
Format: Paperback Review Copy
Rating: 4 stars
Official Synopsis: A timeless story of mothers and daughters with a razor-sharp 21st century twist, this heart-wrenching debut for fans of Kimberly McCreight (Reconstructing Amelia) and Liane Moriarity (Big Little Lies) will make you question how you and your family spend time online.
With Saving Phoebe Murrow, acclaimed writer and longtime children’s activist Herta Feely introduces readers to Isabel Murrow: a suburban mother precariously balancing her busy career as a D.C. lawyer and her family, who she would do anything to protect. In a world of bullies and temptations, all Isabel wants is to keep her thirteen-year-old daughter, Phoebe, safe. But with her hectic schedule, Isabel fails to recognize another mother’s mounting fury and the danger her daughter faces by flirting with a mysterious boy online. A cyber-bulling incident aimed at Phoebe, with horrific consequences, finally pushes Isabel to the edge.
Smartly paced and equal parts shocking and sadly familiar, Saving Phoebe Murrow is a riveting addition to the contemporary women’s fiction landscape that will resonate with parents, teens, and anyone compelled by timely and beautifully crafted stories
Saving Phoebe Murrow is a story of two very different women, with two very different parenting styles and how their choices impact their daughters and the rest of the their friends and family. It is a story about bullying, and the consequences of your actions, and it is a story that should be read and discussed all across the country. The effects of bullying are witnessed everyday, as the internet makes it too easy to be cruel without even considering the consequences or the impact your words and actions will have on other people. Saving Phoebe Murrow gives you an intense look into the minds of the victim and the bully as well as their friends and family and shows you all the factors that can lead to tragedy. I believe it’s also a cautionary tale for parents, and gives them something to think about when it comes to interacting with their children, their children’s friends, and watching for signs that their child is either being bullied or may be a bully.
Another thing this novel does well is show the reader that bullying is no longer just a bigger kid at school demanding your lunch money. It can come in many different forms, and from unexpected places. Cyber bullying in particular is becoming more and more of a problem especially as some people still fail to recognize online attacks as “bullying.” It is also easy for online bullying to get out of hand as more and more people jump onto the bandwagon and display a mob mentality despite being alone in front of a computer – something we see happen in the novel. Taking all these things into account, and portraying them honestly makes Saving Phoebe Murrow a haunting and heartbreaking read.
This book took me through a wide range of emotions – anger, sadness, concern, anger again – and definitely kept me turning the pages. If you’re interested in real-life drama that’s relevant to current topics then I definitely recommend picking up a copy of Saving Phoebe Murrow, and don’t be afraid to share it with all the mothers and teenagers you know.
Now, please continue reading for a special guest post from Herta Feely herself, as well as an exclusive excerpt of the novel and a chance to win your own copy of the book!
What’s In a Dumb Blonde?
Guest Post by Herta Feely
(Herta Feely is a writer, full-time editor, and the co-founder of Safe Kids Worldwide. Her short stories and memoir have been published in anthologies and literary journals, including The Sun, Lullwater Review, The Griffin, Provincetown Arts, and Big Muddy. In the wake of the James Frey scandal, Feely edited and published the anthology, Confessions: Fact or Fiction? Awarded the James Jones First Novel Fellowship and an Artist in Literature Fellowship from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities for The Trials of Serra Blue, she has also received an award from American Independent Writers for best published personal essay for a piece on immigration. Feely is a graduate of UC Berkeley and Johns Hopkins University. She has two grown sons and lives in Washington, DC, with her husband and cats. Connect with Herta on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and her website: http://www.hertafeely.com/)
Not Another Dumb Blonde blog inspired me (thank you, CJ) to write about the topic of “dumb blondes,” in part because I happen to love Marilyn Monroe. There’s a lot that could be said about the subject, ranging from how this stereotype evolved, why people perceive blondes as “dumb,” how women have come to embrace the “dumb blonde” stereotype (jokingly, I believe), and more.
So briefly, is the stereotype true? A quick test: Who is smarter? Susan Sarandon or Gwyneth Paltrow? Kim Kardashian or Paris Hilton? Isabel Winthrop or Sandy Littleton? (two characters in my novel)
I hope you didn’t think I would actually answer these questions, because quite frankly, I have no idea…but the point is that maybe, just maybe, you picked the woman with the dark hair as being smarter, something which shows up repeatedly in studies. For example, in the UK in 2006, a study analyzed 500 CEOs’ hair color. Guess what? Blondes were underrepresented. A 1996 study evaluated how someone would respond to resumes with photos. They found that despite identical resumes, there was a prejudice against blonde applicants, who were consistently rated as less competent!
I happen to be a huge fan of Marilyn Monroe’s, the iconic dumb blonde, thanks to Hollywood. There’s more to the evolution of this stereotype, but I won’t bore you with it. As a fan of Marilyn’s I often have to defend her. Yes, I say, she was blonde, but she wasn’t dumb! Vulnerable, neglected as a child, insecure, etcetera, yes. But not dumb.
One of my fiction-writing teachers berated me for my “love of Marilyn.” He simply couldn’t believe there was anything interesting about this woman. Clearly, he couldn’t see beyond the Hollywood idol. To me, Marilyn was beautiful and sexy, but also sad and wounded.
So it was with some delight that I suddenly discovered Sandy, a character in my novel, also appreciated Marilyn. By understanding this, it breathed new life into her character. Using iconic figures, like Marilyn or Lady Gaga or Madonna and so on, creates a kind of shorthand for the author with the reader. In the case of Sandy, it made her, I believe, a bit more vulnerable, like the actress, and also beguiling and sexy. But Sandy, like Marilyn, is also anything but a dumb blonde. Read the excerpt and see if you agree.
Exclusive Excerpt from Saving Phoebe Murrow
Sandy took in a deep breath before heading into the adjacent room for a drink. She certainly needed one. She couldn’t believe what a snobby bitch Isabel had been. Wedging her way into the crush of people surrounding the bar, she glanced around for Bill but instead spied Ron at the front of the crowd and edged toward him. She brushed up against several men along the way, smiling coyly as she squeezed by.
More than once her stepfather Les had commented on her resemblance to Marilyn, and Sandy wondered what the star must have felt. So beautiful and sexy, and yet so lonely and sad. On occasion she could relate to her sense of abandonment, and at other times she felt plain sorry for her. Mostly, though, given Marilyn’s fame, the words “what a waste” would flit through her mind.
Sidling up behind Ron, she said in a low breathy tone, “I hate to ask, but would you mind getting me a glass of champagne?”
∙ ● ∙ ● ∙ ● ∙
Ron glanced over his shoulder. The attractive woman seemed familiar, surely he’d seen her somewhere, but he drew a blank.
“Sandy Littleton, Jessie’s mom,” she supplied as if reading his thoughts. With a beguiling dimpled smile, the woman added, “And Bill’s wife, among other things.” Then she actually winked at him like some 1950s starlet.
Now he recalled who she was, though he knew her mostly from snippets of conversation with Isabel. Her shameless flirtation fit Isabel’s description. He smiled back at her. “Sure, sure. No problem.” With the Phoebe mess foremost in his mind, her upbeat attitude felt like a temporary reprieve. He couldn’t help welcoming her attention either. At the bar he ordered another Dewar’s on the rocks for himself and a glass of champagne for Sandy.
When he handed her the fluted glass, she said, “Come on, let’s get out of here,” and gave his hand a tug as if she planned to flee the party. He half-wished he could go with her. Reluctantly, he said, “’Fraid I have to stay. Isabel’s one of the room parents.”
Her brows knitted together in a little frown, then another smile bloomed onto her plush red lips. “Silly, I just meant let’s find a quiet place to drink.”
“Oh, of course,” he said, the heat of embarrassment pinking his cheeks. As he trailed behind her, his mind flipped into gear, convinced that he was entitled to enjoy her company – they were here to meet other parents, after all – but also that he might be able to glean some valuable information about Adams Morgan.
Perhaps she knew something from her daughter Jessie. He hoped, though, that they wouldn’t run into Isabel before he could do a little digging. Surely she’d disapprove.
Several rooms later, they entered a parlor devoid of people but filled with an astonishing array of original artwork, including a John Singer Sargent and an Andrew Wyeth. Ron ogled them. A baby grand piano stood at one end before an ornately curtained window.
“How about this?” she said, and drew him to a moss green velvet sofa. As they sat down, she purred, “I’ve been trying to get a word with you all night, Ron Murphy,” and laughed lightly.
“First of all, I don’t believe you, and second, it’s Murrow, not Murphy,” he corrected her with an indulgent smile.
“Oh dear, I’m sorry.” She turned to face him, her knee touching his thigh as her mouth drew into another dimpled smile. “Really, Ron…Murphy, Murrow, does it matter?”
He smiled. “I wouldn’t say that to everyone here. You know how people are in Washington. Names are important.” He kept his voice low, not wanting to embarrass her.
“Oh, brother, don’t remind me,” she said. “What a bunch of stuffed shirts, if you ask me. Now you’re not like that, are ya, Ron?”
“Maybe just a little.” He smiled at her again and she giggled.
“So, how about Isabel? Are names important to her?” Without waiting for an answer, she added, “I get the feeling she doesn’t like me.”
“No,” Ron said quickly. “I mean…yes. What I mean is, of course she likes you.”
“Now, Ron, I wasn’t born yesterday,” she said with a laugh, and gave his bicep a good squeeze. “Ooh, feel that,” she said.
Watching her eyes dance, Ron knew what she knew: on occasion men loved to be teased and complimented. Though grinning stupidly as if to tell her he wasn’t immune, he also agreed with Isabel and felt a tad sorry for her husband.
When a few people wandered in, Ron slid a few inches away from her.
And now, here’s your chance to win your very own copy of Saving Phoebe Murrow!
Just CLICK HERE to enter the giveaway! Winners will be announced next Tuesday. (May the odds be ever in your favor!)