STUPID AND CONTAGIOUS
Struggling record label executive Brady Gilbert becomes Heaven Albright's new neighbor after ending a relationship and losing his rent-stabilized New York City apartment. While searching for the next big thing in music and brainstorming ways to sell his idea of cinnamon-flavored milk to Starbucks, Brady has run-in after run-in with Heaven, a quirky waitress who unabashedly opens his mail and has a talent for saying all the wrong things at the most inopportune times.
Their friendship is unique. Brady watches as Heaven wrestles toilet paper away from a homeless person. Conversely, Heaven walks in on Brady having "relations" with his unstable ex. It's not until she once again opens Brady's mail, finds cross-country plane tickets and invites herself on his latest escapade that this idiosyncratic friendship gets its relationship legs.
Definitely not your mother's chick lit, Crane's debut is filled with one hilarious and clever surprise after the next. The author brilliantly takes her time developing the relationship, making Brady and Heaven's eventual romantic revelation all the more thrilling because she's so successfully fleshed out these characters. Heaven is fearless, inane, ridiculously charming and not one to apologize. Brady, blessed with his own foibles, finds all too unexpectedly that he's more than happy to go along for the ride. (May, 318 pp., $12.95)