After the first few pages, I breathed a sign of relief. With a title like Miriam the Medium, Shapiro's first novel could have been one of those New Age message books like those written by folks trying to squeeze "how to be the best you can be" into a light medium. I do want to be the best that I can be, but I do enjoy taking time off to read well written novels.
Miriam, who doesn't consider herself a medium at all, just a phone psychic, could be one of my good friends. She has a kind and loving husband struggling to keep his family well cared for. She has a teen daughter struggling to find out who she is while also struggling to get into a good university. Miriam is struggling with all of the above while working at home using her gift as a psychic. Shapiro sweeps us into this family drama with a good deal of humor and insight. Miriam has the ghostly support of her grandmother and her father until she goes for the gold and commercial fame on a television show. Then Bubbie and Dad fade into the background.
Miriam the Medium is filled with memorable characters such as an intruding neighbor, an agent for psychics, a gangster, a motorcycle-riding boyfriend, a malingering employee, all sorts of strange folks who want their lives fixed and the very believable, frustrating family whom Miriam loves. I guess this proves that psychics, writers, actors, artists, politicians (?) can be just like you and me.
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