waking-up-joy-coverJoy, the main character and first person narrator of this comedic romance mystery, set in the fictional town of Spavinaw Junction, Oklahoma, is accused of trying to hang herself when she falls from the roof of the old Talley house where she has lived all of her life. Joy is in her forties. Having never married, she is known as the spinster of Spavinaw Junction. Her mother has just died; and fearing that what she and her boyfriend had secreted in the chimney years before as teenagers was no longer safe, she climbs to the roof of the years-old-three-story house to retrieve it.

To insure her safety, she ties a rope around her waist and then attaches it to the old chimney. When she slips, she ends up dangling from the roof with the rope around her neck. This leads her family to think she has attempted to hang herself. In the hospital where she is trapped inside of her comatose body, she hears the conversations of her visitors but is unable to let her family and the doctors know she is alive and well. She makes every attempt to open her eyes, to move her body . . . to let everyone know that this was an accident and not an attempt to take her life.

The close family—two sisters and two brothers—attend their mother’s funeral with Joy in a wheelchair yet in her comatose state. The real action of the story begins when Joy awakens in the church to the singing of her old boyfriend, Jimmy. What would normally be a sad scene, given this is a funeral, becomes hilarious as everyone, especially the children, reacts to Joy’s awakening.

Waking Up Joy . . . What does the title mean? In spite of the seriousness of the situation, we enjoy the humor, the irony, as Joy Talley, who has always been thought strange, narrates. The reader literally falls in love with her and just about every other character in the story, making for multiple protagonists whose various conflicts are resolved with the resolution of Joy’s. Four stars for a great story, which with some much needed proofreading would receive the five stars it deserves.

Waking Up Joy by Tina Ann Forkner – ISBN: 978-1940296722

Reviewed by Lee L. Peoples