Feminine Products: Rita Plush
Everyone wants a picture perfect life with two parents, loving grandparents, a husband or wife and the perfect children. That would be nice but not always possible as many find out within the pages of this heartfelt, humorous, yet powerful novel about a 39 year old woman named Rusty whose past comes flying in the present and she has to decide whether to accept the love of three people that have let her down in order to have that picture perfect life! Feminine Products is the story of Rusty Scanlon and how her life changes when she realizes that she is about to become a parent, needs to know if she is going to get any support from Walter, the father and what happens when she learns the truth about her own father who deserted her and never came back. It is about growth, forgiveness, understanding, betrayals, fear, survival and love.
Rusty owns a boutique and handles the business by herself. An eye for fashion design, what’s trendy and what customer’s want she envelops her life in her work. Rusty is smart, distrusting and wants some type of commitment from Walter. But, Walter is still hiding in the shadow of his past and before he can find his way to give his heart to Rusty he has to start understanding himself and talk about his past. Rusty or Isabel which is her real name is angry with her mother, Nadine, cannot forgive her for what happened with her father, tossed her out of her life and yet she needs her love.
Jack Paul is Rusty’s father who left one day after losing money in a card game and never came back. Not wanting to not provide for his wife and child he took the easy way out and disappeared. Hank Calvo is a con man that needs someone to care for his smart, yet not so frail mother. Jack makes a deal with him to care for her, get paid for repairing his home; rent free and just has to make sure that Mrs. Calvo is okay. Hank is a con man in real estate and any areas and will sell anyone a policy, house or anything else he claims they need even if they don’t. Author Rita Plush brings these unique and different characters together each having their own flaws and each having to face them before they can find where they truly belong.
Rusty learns about her pregnancy, tells Walter but is not sure if he is the one for her nor is she sure he even wants to take responsibility for her and her child. Lily Gold from the author’s first book Lily Steps Out provides Rusty with someone she can trust, listen to and help when she is confused. Lily is a dynamic character and although her presence is limited in this book it finds its way just in the right time and places.
Within the novel the author flashes back to Rusty’s childhood, her relationship with her grandmother, the Jewish heritage and expressions and then flashes to Jack Paul’s mother who is not Jewish and what happens when she presents her with a cross. Jack Paul leaves and finds himself alone. A carpenter by trade and having the ability to make furniture and even build homes, he takes on some teens, teaching them about woodwork, how to make cabinets, draws and then remembers a dollhouse that he wanted to make for Isabel as a replica of where they lived. Spurred by his hope to give it to his daughter it keeps him focused for a long time while teaching these young students and keeping not only their attention but gaining their respect.
Nadine is Rusty’s mother and she is quite a character in more ways than one. Descriptions of Grandma Frieda brought back memories of my grandmother Katie who also loved making her own chocolate, halvah which I loved as a child and much more. You can smell Grandma Frieda’s great dishes as the author describes them and of course Grandpa Izzy as he slit the fish in the kitchen and pried open the bones. Memories are great but some haunted both Nadine and Rusty. The Jewish expressions that describe her in the fourth grade and the way they explain they felt about Rusty, the fact that she was tall and how much they loved her is quite evident as you read Chapter 8. Searching for her father was something she would never stop doing and meeting a con man named Woody brought it front and center as he claimed to know Jack Paul and then things started to heat up from there. To get him to confess the pull stunts right out of the movie Nine to Five.
As you get to know Jack Paul and hear his voice you the reader will have to decide whether his actions were that of a coward or were justified. Was he afraid of failing or just not able to deal with a wife and child? With his mother asking every time he called whether he was coming to visit, becoming an teacher and finding his way, why did he decide to give it all up just to find Rusty? Would she forgive him? Would she take him in her life?
Walter Margolis is an amazing man who has read up on everything about being pregnant, even claims to have morning sickness and just wants to make Rusty happy. Hidden secrets as we learn about his brother Eugene, his feeling of being inferior and unloved and why he could not come to grips with his past. Telling Rusty might smooth the ways but will it help him to understand that he is not his father and he needs to step up to the plate and be a man.
Learning more about Jack Paul and his parents Rusty learns that Kitty his mother wants nothing to do with Nadine. The house he lived in and as a result could not come to grips with his life, getting a job or himself, haunted Jack Paul. The only way he could resolve his issues was to finally take control of his destiny, deal with getting a job and then find his family that he gave up. Living in Mrs. Calvo’s house, her son away and always having another scheme and then finding a notebook what would explain it all might put him in danger and Mrs. Calvo too. Just whom was Henry scamming? What did the figures in the notebook mean and when would Jack Paul leave this life and find one of his own?
In the present Rusty and Walter have to decide whether they can deal with being parents and being together but first Rusty has to learn more about him, share her fears and decide whether he can be trusted. The chapters that follow help her open up with her mother, deal with her anger and find some type of common ground but would Nadine accept her for who she is and would she accept her mother? Filled with humor, sarcasm, sadness, heartbreak and even a touch of hope Feminine Products is about the journey of several people who need time to grow, mature, find their own way, understand their paths in life, and learn the true meanings of forgiveness, hope, family relationships and love! When Jack Paul comes face to face with Rusty will she push him away? Just how author Rita Plush creates this path to bring them all together is quite unique giving readers hope that everyone just might find a happy ending. But, hers leaves room for the next chapter for Rusty, Walter, Nadine and Jack Paul to hopefully discover their right paths in life! Only the author knows what’s next. Characters that will make you laugh, cry, scream, yell and are true to life: Feminine Products: one emotional rollercoaster that will give up a faster ride than the cyclone on Coney Island.
Fran Lewis: Just Reviews/MJ Magazine