Laura Pedersen, The Big Shuffle Reviews

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“The Big Shuffle ”


written by Harriet Klausner on 10/09/2006

The Big Shuffle
Laura Pedersen
Ballantine, November 2006, $13.95
ISBN: 0345479564

Eighteen year old card shark and graphic design student Hallie Palmer is enjoying life at the Cleveland Art Institute, especially the partying, when her summer boss Bernard Stockton arrives to tell her that her father is in the hospital having suffered a heart attack. Bernard and his lover Gil, along with their adopted child take Hallie first to the hospital where she learns her mom is sedated having fallen into shock, and soon after that her not quite forty dad died. Hallie takes charge of her eight younger siblings, while the oldest Eric comes home from attending college in New York to help.

After talking with Eric, Hallie realizes she must parent her brothers and sisters, as Eric is on scholarship. She expects the next in line Louise to help, but she decamps to Massachusetts to live with her boyfriend. Hallie leaves school to raise the seven other Palmer kids, with help from her friends Bernard, Gil Police Officer Rich and bookie Cappy. However, the best help comes from former sailor Uncle Lenny, who brings discipline, order and humor into a shattered house.

Switching from the middle class teen's amusing poker life amidst the wealthy (see BEGINNER'S LUCK and HEARTS DESIRE) to mothering a family in chaos loses some of the humorous sting that the first two tales contained. The much more serious tome of the storyline focuses on the fiasco of a teen with help trying to bring order to her seven little Foys (make that Palmers). Hallie loses some of her spunk (who wouldn't) as she draws a losing hand that she has no choice but to play. Fans of the series will appreciate her efforts to run a full house instead of playing a full house.

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