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Beach book: 'On the Rocks'

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On the Rocks, a novel by Erin Duffy

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Social media, for some, can be destructive. Take thirty-one-year-old Abby Wilkes, the narrator of Erin Duffy’s new novel “On the Rocks.” She is admiring her reflection in her soon-to-be-ordered wedding gown in the Vera Wang boutique in Boston when her cell phone goes crazy.

She's been dumped by her fiancé via Facebook, who has taken the modern way out of the relationship by changing his status to “single.” Not only that, when she confronts him, he informs her that he is moving to Arizona. Alone.

“I don’t want to uproot you and move you away from your friends and your family. You deserve better than me.”

“I’ll decide what I do and do not deserve. You don’t get to make those decisions without consulting me first. We’ve been together for ten years, Ben. . . . And what problems are you referring to? I wasn’t aware we had any problems. Until an hour ago, the only problems I had were trying to pick out a wedding dress, trying to keep Grace from getting smashed before noon, and trying to keep my mother from liposucking herself into oblivion.”

Abby spends the next six months comforting herself with those popular guys, Ben and Jerry, leaving the refuge of her couch only to go teach kindergarten. As summer rolls around, her friend Grace convinces her to spend her summer in Newport to get away from it all and get her old self back. Abby’s cocktails, personal life and mental state are all on the rocks. “If I had a car I’d make that my vanity plate,” she thinks

This is a summer beach book. The action takes place, for the most part, between Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends in Newport, Rhode Island. Grace’s law school friend and his housemate Wolf are determined to join forces with Grace to pull Abby out of her funk. It’s a summer of personal growth that will challenge all of Abby’s preconceptions about love, men, family and friends. "And just like that I had a plan. . .I was ready for the great dating project of 2012 to begin," she says.

Her enthusiasm wanes when she finds she is dating frogs – not princes. And she suffers a near relapse of her post-breakup depression when she discovers that her younger sister has chosen the very Vera Wang gown she was trying on when she was cyber-dumped by Ben. The problems don’t end there:

For the first time in the history of weddings, no one would be looking at the bride because they’d be too busy gawking at her older sister, a shrew dressed head to toe in a color that definitely couldn’t be called pink, standing next to her mother, who was clad in a wedding dress.

Duffy’s prose is smart and sassy – and funny. Big on self-deprecating humor, Abby quickly develops a relationship with Bobby that is initially defined by wisecracking repartee, but that blooms into a genuine friendship that could lead anywhere. For anyone who’s been stumped by the search for love, “On the Rocks” is the perfect romantic comedy – with the emphasis on comedy – to pop into a beach bag.

“On the Rocks” is available at amazon.com and your favorite New York bookstores.

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