Readers hungry for a novel that's equal parts sweet and sour will find plenty of sugar and vinegar in Hurricane Girl by Marcy Dermansky (Very Nice; The Red Car; Bad Marie). "Sick of everybody and everything," 32-year-old Allison Brody flees Hollywood and the movie producer boyfriend who often hit her, and buys a North Carolina beach house in foreclosure. Before she left, she had sold a horror script, so she can afford to relax and swims daily, her favorite pastime. But then her life becomes its own horror film. A Category 3 hurricane wipes out her home, and the TV cameraman who covers the story and invites her to stay with him responds dramatically when she resists his advances and tries to leave: he smashes a vase over her head.
The rest of the novel charts Allison's often grisly adventure as she drives home to New Jersey with a head injury; receives care from her mother, who still grieves her husband's recent death; and begins a relationship with Dr. Danny Yang, her neurosurgeon and a former college classmate she used to fool around with. Some characters are caricatures rather than fully fleshed-out creations, but readers will enjoy Dermansky's humorous one-liners and deceptively light touch. And they will sympathize with Allison, a woman tired of the way men treat her and who fights her inclination to go through life like a swimmer in the ocean: floating aimlessly, drifting wherever the waves take her. --Michael Magras, freelance book reviewer