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With Good Behavior

With Good Behavior - Jennifer Lane Check out this review at Smash Attack Reads! http://smashattackreads.blogspot.com/2010/12/book-review-with-good-behavior-by.htmlMy ThoughtsI was contacted by Omnific Publishing to review Jennifer Lane’s debut novel, With Good Behavior. Once I read that she’s a psychologist, I knew I had to read the book because she would likely apply her knowledge throughout. I am a budding social worker, and just took Psychopathology, so I definitely wanted to find out what she had to say.With Good Behavior is not my typical read, but I enjoyed the break from my fantastical normality. It’s a fictional story about two normal people, from very dysfunctional families, who get jipped by people they cared about, and sent off to prison to pay for their naïve loyalty. We get some mafia action, some no-no’s in the ethics department, and betrayal, all wrapped up in a sweet love story.The two main characters, Sophie and Grant, are very relatable and likeable. They both made bad choices and paid heavily for them. They are now out of prison and on parole because of their good behavior, trying to piece their life back together while holding on to their last slice of dignity (big social work value there!) Grant is a caring, compassionate soul and desperately trying to remain detached from his Mafia family. Sophie is trusting, empathetic and trying to maintain her happy façade, all the while extremely embarrassed and disappointed about the ethical mistake she made. They meet by chance and fall deeply in love, only to realize that “it’s a small world” has never been more applicable.I really loved Roger, who ran an architectural boat tour in Chicago and gave these two felons a chance. He was hysterical with his potty mouth and easily ignited temper. He gave Grant and Sophie a hard time throughout but you knew he was a softie underneath. Another great character was Jerry, Sophie and Grant’s parole officer. Another I-will-send-your-ass-back-to-the-slammer-if-you-smile-at-me-wrong attitude but he fought for Sophie and Grant when the shit hit the fan. The Mafia characters in the book aren’t likeable in the least, go figure, but one of them tries to redeem himself, albeit too little, too late.As a social work student, I enjoyed reading about the helping relationship, certain mental disorders, ethics, proper parenting, the lasting effects of domestic violence and child abuse, and the like. It was also interesting to learn about the background of the characters and how much our childhood experiences shape our future. Grant turns out to be quite the resilient young man, and he also had a trusted, caring adult/mentor during childhood. These two things have been proven to improve the risks for children.Jennifer’s writing is fun, knowledgeable and smooth. I thought the chapter names were very clever and fitting, and always made me wonder “How does ‘Fucking Carrots’ fit into this story?” I think I might need to interview Jennifer because I have some questions for her! I definitely can’t wait to read the next in the series, Bad Behavior, in 2011.My Favorite QuotesRoger raised his eyebrows. “Madsen, you brought me Mother Fucking Teresa?”“Hardly,” Sophie scoffed. “I doubt Mother Teresa was a convicted felon.”Like most abuse survivors, he apparently blamed himself. He thought his inherent badness caused the abuse and believed nobody would love him once they learned of it.“In my opinion, a trusting therapeutic relationship is key to change – a relationship in which the therapist and client can partner together to help the client cope with life better.”