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Neighbor Feuds:

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Love and a Bad Hair Day
By Annie Flannigan
Avon A

Since the day my parents moved into their house in my home town, more than 15 years ago, we have been collectively feuding with one of our neighbors. At first, it started off with small, ridiculous things. During the fall they’d throw their leaves over the fence and onto our property. In the winter, they’d do the same with the snow. Then they became more brazen. Random bits of trash found their way onto our yard, my father’s truck was egged, and from behind the bushes that marked our property line, our dogs were teased with squirt guns. Did I retaliate? I was a budding angry teenager defending my family—of course I did!

During a sleepover, my best friend Amy and I snuck out of the house at 3 a.m. Unknown to my parents who were fast asleep, we made our way over to the neighbor’s family vacation camper and sat beside its septic tank. Out of our pockets we took three packs of the most notorious pieces of gum available on the market at the time, Bubblicious. We chewed each piece until our jaws ached. One by one we formed a sticky, nasty adhesive around the septic tank’s lock. The next day, we sat out on the porch and watched with smiles as the neighbors discovered our revenge. We heard them bitch and moan about it all the way back inside the house.

I have a ton more stories of the back-and-forth urban warfare that took place, but what’s significant to share is the feud ultimately needed mediation at our city’s police station. So, when I stumbled across “Love and a Bad Hair Day” by author Annie Flannigan, and noticed it centered around a feuding family that makes the Hatfields and McCoys look like the Vienna Boys’ Choir, I had to include it in the encore book club.

“Love and a Bad Hair Day” takes us to fictitious Verbena, North Carolina, and practically makes us an honorary citizen. For generations the O’Malleys and the Hadleys have been Verbena’s most infamous feuding family. Jolene Hadley Corbett owns the only hair salon in Verbena. She spends her free time with her best friend, Emma, her son and her elderly grandmother. She’s comfortable with her small-town life, its small-town drama, and under no circumstances will she shut up about her obsession for hair. Then the sudden death of Howdy O’Malley, the stingy manager of the town’s most popular hotel and all-day breakfast “South Winds Trav’O’Tel and All-Day Buffet,” brings Jolene’s secret crush, Ryman O’Malley (Howdy O’Malley’s grandson) back into town. His burning desire to tear apart South Winds forever, collapse the local economy and win the long-time family feud one and for all remains of utmost importance. Unexpectedly, his ideal demise of the Hadleys doesn’t quite happen the way he expects. Jolene Hadley has had a fire burning high and bright for Ryman since he felt her up in the pool when she was 14. When she spots him again after years passed, he’s a lot taller and sexier than she could have ever imagined. Like an erupting volcano, all her old feelings rapidly gush to the surface again. Needless to say, it throws a wrench in Ryman’s cold-hearted plans.

Readers of Annie Flannigan often note the chemistry in her work. “Love and a Bad Hair Day” may not appear to be all that deep—or all original for that matter—but the novel hopefully provides a cute romp with an energetic heroine and comical villains. Admittedly, I’m not too much into chick-lits, but this read seems simply fun—something we could all use a little more of nowadays.

Pick up encore book club reads from Pomegranate Books, Two Sisters Bookery or Old Books on Front Street and receive 15 percent off when mentioning the club!

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