Smile Again, Jenny Lee

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A bizarre set of circumstances leaves a tennis champion without a career. Another set of strange situations eventually connects the tennis aficionado with an older gentleman who is in search of – out of all things – the athlete’s estranged father who suddenly disappeared seventeen years earlier. Together, their sleuthing efforts to solve this mystery not only brings them closer to the truth, but also pits them against those who want to keep that information forever cloaked. Aside from sports, Smile Again, Jenny Lee incorporates themes of relationships and self-awareness amid a slew of interesting characters that are set within a superbly riveting plot.

Writer and filmmaker Carlo Caldana unfurls a mystery with perfect accretion. Recognized as the main protagonist in the story, twenty-four year old Jenny Lee is indeed a dynamic character. Her attitude, which aligns with her competitive spirit, is cantankerous through and through. Lee is determined to get back into the tennis spotlight, even though her affected knee inhibits her mobility on the court. But amid her vain attempts, she’s thrown off guard when she encounters Charles Landale, who is in search of her father. Landale’s gentle disposition makes him the ideal complementary character to the sharp-tongued Lee, since he is the only person who can help her face reality. Besides her personal problems, Lee has to contend with Emily, her annoying yet sophisticated and opulent mother. Although she gradually comes to terms with herself in the midst of sleuthing, Lee and Landale are set in opposition against a progressive set of circumstances that go beyond the round, complex and foiled cast.

Caldana’s novel is filled with sensory detail (living conditions and inclement weather) and secondary characters that enhance Lee’s dismal environs – all tightly intermixed with a plethora of red herring clues to lure readers into the wrong direction. Tension is added to the sleuthing jumble when is Alan, Lee’s ex-manager, seems to always be ten steps behind Lee and Landale. The quickly moving plot incorporates all these literary tools interwoven in emotionally incited and engaging dialogue that are placed within short cliffhanging chapters.

Now in pre-production mode and earmarked for April-May 2015 filming, Smile Again, Jenny Lee offers a distinctive storyline that closes with a heartwarming twist. Perfect for young and older adult readers, Caldana’s narrative is definitely an intriguing read that has the potential of being the next best seller.

Chris Hayden

Chris Hayden been working at City Book Review since 2012, so that makes him the keeper of knowledge. He manages the office and book reviewers (all 200 of them!), which is no small feat. If you’re looking at the book reviews here, you’re seeing them because he sent the books out for review. Without him, this place would fall apart, because no one else in the office knows how to use the postage machine. Two words: job security.


Reviewed By:

Author Carlo Caldana
Star Count 5/5
Format Trade
Page Count 230 pages
Publisher CreateSpace
Publish Date 27-Sep-2013
ISBN 9781492102557
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue October 2014
Category Mystery, Crime & Thriller
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