TITLE: Made For Me
AUTHOR: Kathryn R. Biel
PUBLISHING: Kathryn R. Biel
RELEASE DATE: October 4th 2016
GENRE(S): Chick Lit, Romance, Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Ugh. I’m so full. I’ve never been this full. Well, not since last Christmas Eve. I do this to myself every year. My mom and Aunt Rosalie go to town, and I lose all self-control.
What little self-control I possess, which isn’t much.
I ate all seven fishes this year. Usually I only make it to five fishes, but this year I went for the whole enchilada. Or pesce, as the case may be. Shrimp cocktail, lox, smelts, and crab dip. Scallops, baccala, and salmon. Not to mention the broccoli rabe and then the desserts. I’m a sucker for those little Italian cookies.
Now I think my stomach is going to explode. Or at least the button on my pants is. I reach my hand oh so discreetly under my sweater and release the button. Aaaaaah, sweet relief.
I’d had the cutest little shift dress to wear, until Mom decided that we needed to make this an ugly Christmas sweater party. I wouldn’t have felt so constricted in my dress. I don’t wear these kinds of clothes often—conservative pants and a sweater. If Barrett had been with me, I would not have been caught dead in this. Totally not my style. My mom, on the other hand, is the queen of the turtleneck and sweater. Gives me hives really.
Or maybe that’s the shellfish.
Either way, you can stick a fork in me. I’m done.
I look at my watch. It’s only seven p.m. Oh good Lord. Only five more hours until Midnight Mass. I either need a nap or a roll of Tums. Maybe both. I sneak down the hall to my old bedroom. I’ve got to get out of these terrible clothes. Maybe I can take a quick nap, sleep off the wine, and then drive home and change before Mass. I should have brought a change of clothes with me.
Don’t get me wrong—I love my family. I love having aunts and uncles and cousins. My brothers, sister, and I add to the melee. We’re all loud and noisy. The laughs flow as freely as the wine does. That’s when we’re all speaking to each other. Which is almost never. But that’s not why I ate my weight in seafood tonight.
Oh, no, I strapped on the feedbag so I wouldn’t have to answer questions about why I’m single. Again. Every time a well-meaning cousin or nosy aunt asked a question, I shoved a forkful of fish into my mouth. My sister is a no-show this year and my brothers are both with their wives’ families. So the target seems to be firmly planted on me this year. Like it’s a crime to be almost thirty and still unmarried. Just because no female in our family has dared remain single this long doesn’t make it a crime.
I can’t believe Barrett ditched me on Christmas Eve. This is not the first time this has happened. I’d like to say it will be the last, but I’m not hopeful. Barrett and I have one of those super-complex, on-again-off-again relationships. When we’re together, the chemistry is unbelievable. And then it’s not.
We’re in a not phase right now.
Which is fine, because I know we’ll be back together soon. I’m totally okay taking a break.
It’s just … well, I told my mom he was coming.
She told Aunt Rosalie. Who told Aunt Maria. Who told my cousins Antonia, Alessandra, Carmalina, and Tony. I’m fairly certain my uncles Mario and Vito know as well, but I don’t think they give a hoot.
Sometimes I feel naming the members of my family tree is like reciting the cast list from The Sopranos. Which is why I don’t fit in. My name is Michele. It’s not even remotely Italian. And to make matters worse, I’m blond.
Well, I used to be.
I maintain that I still am. That secret is safe with my hairdresser. I was blond as a child. Pale skin, blue eyes. Yeah, clichéd I know. It’s not my fault. Blame my Polish father. My mom is only half-Italian to begin with. Her own mother strayed with a Scotsman.
At least I’m short like the rest of my Italian family members. I fit right in there. 5’1″. That’s it. I kind of like hanging with my cousins. Carmalina is the tallest female at 5’4″, and the men don’t get much taller than about 5’8″. It’s a sharp contrast to my best friend, Christine, who hovers around Jolly Green Giant height.
My family can be kind of … intense. They are noisy and boisterous and get all up in everyone’s business. I may have been complaining about this to Barrett. I wonder if that has anything to do with his breaking things off last week. I mean, who dumps someone the week before Christmas?
Barrett Synder, that’s who.
Maybe he was scared to meet my family. I guess we can be a bit on the overwhelming side. That’s probably what it is.
“Michele, are you in there?”
Drat. My mom has found me.
“Yeah, I’ll be right out.”
That doesn’t stop my mom from coming in. Oh right, no privacy. That’s why I’m not planning on staying here tonight. “What are you doing in here?”
“Just sleeping off dinner.”
“People are asking about you. You need to come out and join us for coffee. I need your help cleaning up.”
Ooops, I forgot I told Mom I’d help her. With my sister Lynn on vacation with her husband, she needs the extra hand. They’re trying to get pregnant and wanted a romantic baby-making holiday. Good for them. Lynn’s thirty-seven, and that biological clock is ticking so loudly even I can hear it. They sort of thought the stress of the holidays wouldn’t help, so they decided to skip it this year. Though I don’t envy the heartbreak they’ve undergone, I’m sort of jealous that they get to be absent from all this fun. My mom is recovering from chemo and radiation, and her stamina is not what it once was. “Sorry!” I jump up off the bed and shimmy around trying to button my pants. “I was in a little bit of a food coma.”
“I’m ready for a nap myself.”
“Why don’t you go lie down, and I’ll take care of the kitchen?”
“I can’t do that. I’m the hostess.”
I look at her, and see fatigue hanging heavily around her eyes and mouth. I can’t believe I was so selfish as to hole myself up in here. To let myself wallow about Barrett. Stupid Barrett. I should be happy for my family. We’ve been through a lot this year.
“You rest. I’ll take over hostess duties. And it’s not like it’s company. It’s just family.”
“I guess. You’ll have to figure out how to do this. I won’t always be here, you know.”
In light of the current situation, her words should make my heart ache. But here’s the thing—my mom is queen of the guilt trip. We’ve been hearing about her imminent demise my whole life. I wish Lynn were here. We’d be rolling our eyes. We’ve made drinking games out of it in the past. Last year, we were almost passed-out drunk before Mass.
Of course, then doesn’t she go and get diagnosed with breast cancer in April. Maybe she made all those comments because deep down she knew she was sick, but I think it’s more likely her guilt-inducing tendencies were simply those of many a good Italian-Catholic mother. After all, guilt is the cornerstone of her manipulation. I mean power.
It was all a trap. I mean, I have no doubt my mom’s a little—lot—tired. She’s been cooking for days. Not to mention hitting the cab pretty hard. But that’s not what this is all about. Oh no.
Aunt Maria pounces before I get the first dish packaged up. The men folk “helped out” by piling up all the platters of food on the kitchen counter in order to make room for the desserts. Now, it’s up to me to portion out take-home containers and put away the leftovers.
“So, I hear that you’re looking for a man.”
My teeth clench when I realize the trap I’ve walked into. “Um, no, not really. I’m involved with someone.”
“That’s not what I hear. I hear he broke up with you again. I mean, who breaks up with someone the week before Christmas?”
Would it be wrong of me to fake appendicitis?
STAR RATING: 5 *****
“MOVIE” RATING: PG
I hardly ever read books in one sitting but this novel was phenomenal. The story was captivating and very interesting as it was similar to being on Project Runway only as part of a book. Michele is an almost thirty-year-old who needs life plan. She isn’t married, she doesn’t have a job, and she’s now living with her parents again. When auditions for a TV show for fashion designers becomes known to her, she cannot escape the thought of using this as her last chance into the fashion world, for reals this time.
The characters were so fun and interesting, especially Michele. Though the novel is focused mostly on Michele and doesn’t go into too much detail about others, it fit the story perfectly. I absolutely loved her as she reminded me of myself. Her thoughts and big dreams were contagious while her self-confidence was lacking, I knew that that is probably in each of us at one point in our lives. The growth that her character goes through in Made For Me is wonderful and truly a complete turnaround from the beginning pages. While reading, I immediately thought of My Big Fat Greek Wedding and how she started very similar to Michele but grew, learned, and found someone she could grow and learn with too.
The story was easy to follow but there were tiny bits of suspense as there is in reality TV shows. When they announce winners of the round, I felt like I was watching the Bachelor or Project Runway itself. The suspense killed me as much as it made Michele want to throw up…or pee. The humor that is scattered throughout this piece is also light and very amusing. It relieved a lot of tension that Michele must have been feeling at certain times.
The romance parts in this novel weren’t graphic in any way and there was no language that I could find as well. I appreciate novels like this that I can focus on the story and not be distracted with too much swearing or graphic intimacy. There was some romantic tension, which I love to read because it gives you that love and romance that Michele was feeling, yet teases you of something more.
Overall, I’m so glad that I could read this book and recommend this to anyone who wants to fulfill their dreams and just needs some good inspiration. Or just anyone who loves a good story filled with drama!
I was sent an electronic copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased and honest review.
ABOUT Kathryn R. Biel:
Telling stories of resilient women, Kathryn Biel hails from Upstate New York and is a wife and mother to two wonderful and energetic kids. In between being Chief Home Officer and Director of Child Development of the Biel household, she works as a school-based physical therapist. She attended Boston University and received her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from The Sage Colleges. After years of writing countless letters of medical necessity for wheelchairs, finding increasingly creative ways to encourage the government and insurance companies to fund her clients’ needs, and writing entertaining annual Christmas letters, she decided to take a shot at writing the kind of novel that she likes to read. Her musings and rants can be found on her personal blog, Biel Blather. She is the author of Good Intentions (2013), Hold Her Down (2014), I’m Still Here (2014), Jump, Jive, and Wail (2015), Killing Me Softly (2015), and Completions and Connections: A Romantic Holiday Novella (2015), Live for This (2016), and Made for Me (2016).