24 Sep / Woman No. 17 by Edan Lepucki [in Library Journal]
Lady Daniels is supposed to be writing a memoir about raising her now-18-year-old mute son Seth, who communicates just fine using American Sign Language (ASL) and rapid typing on various screens. Lady’s toddler needs child care, however – Lady has recently pushed hubby out – so she hires S, formerly known as Esther, as live-in nanny. Newly back in L.A. from UC Berkeley, S has her own surprising agenda that includes wigs, canvasses, and a lot of drinking.
Lady and S’s alcohol-fueled late nights give the illusion they are (shallow) friends, close enough for Lady to show-and-tell how she’s the titular Woman No. 17 in her famous sister-in-law’s photography series. Secrets come out (mothers fare worst), but not all the deceits get revealed. And animals do get harmed.
Cassandra Campbell and Phoebe Strole alternate narrating Lady and S. Strole is more convincingly cast as the recent college graduate; Campbell occasionally sounds tired and uninspired and resorts to an Inspector Clouseau-esque voice whenever she decides a character might have an accent.
Verdict: Beyond the most devoted fans of best-selling Lepucki (California), the lack-of-likability factor for this not-so-dynamic duo could limit library demand.