There are lots of books about young women. And there are lots of books about gorgeous women. There are books about tall women, women who don’t realize how lovely they are and too damn many books about women who stay thin or physically fit without effort. Now a lot of these gals aren’t bad characters; heck, some of them are my long-time favorites but it does get tiresome to run into the same type of heroine, day after day. Thank God for Sue Ann Jaffarian and her creation, Odelia Grey. They’re the girls that break the cliches.
Odelia may be fictional but she’s a girl after my own heart. She’s not thin, she’s not young and (like me) she works for lawyers. Not the usual girl on the book cover. At the start of her first adventure, Too Big to Miss, Odelia’s life is a bit in the dumps. Her good boss is retiring, the last date needed firing and skinny shop girls want to treat her like dreck. Odelia knows how to stand up for herself and she gives as good as she gets but it’s sad living that much of life on the defensive and the death of her friend Sophie makes things worse. Of all of the over-weight, under-tall, not-so-youthful people in the world, Sophie was one who charged Odelia’s confidence, insisted all people are beautiful, regardless of Body Mass Index and got Odelia to believe it too. Now, Odelia has to close out her Sophie’s professional and personal business affairs and what Odelia learns in the process turns her own world upside down. Despite set backs and set-ups, the heroine of Too Big to Miss moves forward, trying to find justice for a friend who wanted decent treatment for everyone. If you read it, I know you’ll like the finish.
I had the pleasure of hearing Sue Ann Jaffarian speak a few years ago when I was feeling low. Like me and Odelia, she’s a professional paralegal and none of us would be described as skinny or tall. Still, Sue Ann impressed me with her verve and frank remarks about her life as a novelist. She said she’d always wanted to be a published writer and she finally decided to become one. Fear didn’t stop her and failure of the first book didn’t stop her either. She wrote again and again, refusing to give up so she eventually achieved her goal. Now she’s one of the recognized authors of “cozy” mysteries, those books with just enough blood and zing to keep a reader interested but not nauseated. Perfect books for a snow day or a holiday or a sick day propped up in bed. I love them, not just because I know the life of a paralegal or a bit about Julian, California (it’s the site of another mystery series Jaffarian writes and close to where my grandparents lived.) but because her characters are so darn likeable. I suspect they take after their author.
But Odelia’s the girl after my heart, along with the gal who created her. Both of them take risks and don’t apologize for being themselves. They’re smart, funny and and they leave you with memories you’ll love. Those are good traits to find in any heroine. They’re even better when they appear in real life.