Publication Date: August 17, 2013
In Tomato Stakes by Melanie Jo Moore, Melanie is in love with Julio, the foreman of a tomato-picking crew and a man she’s only seen from afar. They’ll get married; she’ll stop working and write full time and life will be happily ever after. Does it come as any surprise when Julio doesn’t quite live up to Melanie’s expectations? Join Melanie in the most ridiculous relationship of her life in Tomato Stakes.
The author, Melanie Jo Moore, gave me a copy of this novel in exchange for my review.
Tomato Stakes is a familiar type of story to anyone of a certain age. Half of our friends are married and settled. There are those friends out for a good time and then there are those who dream of someone coming along and taking care of them. They are certain that Prince Charming will be an excellent companion. How could he not be? He’s so hot! I blame Disney for the female dream that someday someone who will do everything for you and leave you without any of the drudgeries of real life will carry you away. Find a good-looking man and obviously, all else will be perfection as well. Melanie learns very quickly that Julio may be the best-looking man she’s ever seen, but his substance is lacking and then, as happens, he’s vilified for being who he was all the time, only his shiny exterior was concealing and in effect enabling that behavior.
There is something vital missing in this tale. Tomato Stakes is well written and while the character is all over the place, she still reads as real, but there’s something missing in the bigger picture. When a person is writing from life experience, embellished or not, it’s hard to comment too much on content, but really, the story could be more compelling and for a long time after finishing the book, I searched to find what it was that could have been added. I think perhaps it’s because Mel tells us how crazy she is so frequently. I’ve found when a person is telling you constantly how crazy they are, they are usually not so that there is an unintentional reverse psychology effect. In Meldawg’s case, she really came off as an average girl who was a little flaky, drove drunk and wasted way too much. I’m also not a fan of the show New Girl. The main character in that show annoys the heck out of me with her flighty inability to avoid any of life’s peril. That said, I know people who love the show and imagine they would love Tomato Stakes as it employs that same “I’m quirky and cool” candor that led the character to read as much younger emotionally than her chronological age would suggest. “But Tammy,” you’re saying, “This is all in the name of entertainment. Life is boring.” It is, sure, but allowing your readers to interpret without telling them how to interpret can enhance your writing credibility.
Tomato Stakes by Melanie Jo Moore is a book with mass appeal. Moore writes well and while it’s not action packed the story comes off as real. Were I 15 years younger, and still taking the bus to work at the Ann Arbor Library, I may have lapped this up because at the time I was living the dating and where-will-my life-go scene. I did really enjoy the interchange between Mel and her sister. To a degree, the sister acted on behalf of the audience saying “This is not going to turn out well, but you’re delusional and unwilling to see it.”
Tomato Stakes ends with “To Be Continued.” As Melanie is the star of her own work, I imagine that the character grows and expands and her starry-eyed outlook changes. Memoirs in and of themselves are self-indulgent, but this one leaves me with my Grandma’s words of wisdom “if everyone says they like you, someone is lying”. If you like shows like “New Girl,” you will like Tomato Stakes.
If Tomato Stakes (Pour Me Another Drink Book 2) by Melanie Jo Moore sounds like a book for you, read an excerpt and buy on