Review: On Maggie’s Watch
Author: Ann Wertz Garvin
Publisher: November 2, 2010; Berkley Books
Rating: 2.5 Bookmarks
Nat’s One-Sentence Synopsis: When a very pregnant Maggie Finley returns to her Wisconsin hometown from the big city, the safe haven she and her husband are seeking proves elusive as they learn their neighbors might have dark secrets and spotty pasts.
First, a rating scale clarification: In my almost two years of writing book reviews on this site, I have not yet awarded 5 bookmarks to any book. I’m not intentionally stingy and think my rating scale might be a bit different from a traditional 1 to 5 scale. A 2-bookmark read for me is one that I would pick up at the library. A 3-bookmark read I would add to my TBR pile in the near future. I’ve started including links to other reviews to give additional perspectives.
On Maggie’s Watch is a novel that examines how priorities shift after the loss of a child. Maggie Finely has experienced a devastating loss and the second time around time around, she’s not taking any chances. After settling back into her hometown, she breathes new life into the old neighborhood watch program to help curb crime. While most of the neighbors concern themselves with petty vandalism, Maggie sets her sights on bigger fish, namely a registered sexual offender living right in the neighborhood.
This novel grapples with many themes–friendship, loss, control, love, family, persecution–and Garvin tells a solid story that had me laughing out loud a few times. Unfortunately, the characters seemed a bit one-dimensional, and I never was able to connect with Maggie. She was chilly and distant from her husband, shutting him out and redirecting her attentions to a handsome neighbor. Her friendship with Julia, a friend from childhood, seemed stilted and forced.
Maggie’s obsession with vigilante justice seemed dangerous and foolish to me. She made it her business to ride a bike to a sex offender’s house in the wee hours of the night (she’s 7 months pregnant, mind you) to carry out small acts of vandalism and is spotted by numerous neighbors.
Additionally, the big reveal was evident to me long before Maggie learned about. I’m not sure if it was intentional but it made for a bit of a let down. This was an extremely quick read, and I’m sure many readers out there will enjoy this story despite my tepid review. On Maggie’s Watch is Garvin’s debut novel, and I would be willing to give her next book a read because she did have me laughing with anecdotes and expressions.
Ultimately, this book might not have been a great match for me because I don’t have kids and have never been involved in that lifestyle. Readers who are parents may be able to relate more with Maggie and her compulsive behaviors to keep her baby safe or the way parents can become strangers during the course of raising their family.
BookHounds absolutely loved it and is giving away a copy