THE BIKINI CAR WASH
Richly detailed characterizations are the highlight of this often amusing story, which is rife with witty observations about life in general and small-town foibles in particular. Secondary character Jelly is a particular treat.
After her mother’s death, Andrea Wolkowicz moves home to help her aging father care for her developmentally disabled sister, Jelly. With jobs scarce, Andi reopens her father’s old car wash and staffs it with women in bikinis. Tongues wag and there are protests aplenty, but the business takes off, as does her romance with store owner Pete Guthrie. But Andi’s life isn’t completely rosy; she discovers that her parents’ storybook courtship and marriage weren’t what they appeared, making her question everything. Especially her feelings for Pete! (MIRA, Jul., 400 pp., $13.95)