Hollie Porter Builds a Raft
by Eliza Gordon
When darling Ryan gets down on one NHL-damaged knee and pops the question of a lifetime, Hollie realizes this is where the real adventure begins. It’s all cake tasting, flower choosing, and dress fittings until a long-lost family member shows up at the Cove and threatens to hijack her shiny new life, forcing Hollie to redefine what family means to her. What is she willing to sacrifice to have one of her very own?
As Ryan’s words echo in her head—“Our raft, our rules”—Hollie has to face facts: a raft isn’t always tied together with blood and genetics. Sometimes it’s secured by love and loyalty… and occasional help from the clever creatures that call Revelation Cove home.
“Her eyes were hopeful, despite the smear of black and blue cosmetics that make her look like she’s been assaulted by Crayolas on a bender.”
“The harnessed power of this man’s smile could bring an end to our reliance on fossil fuels.”
“But… what if I don’t want to reproduce at all? Why is that everyone expects that as soon as you get married, you’ll start squeezing out mutant life forms?”
“I sneak into the lingerie section to find a little something for Ryan for the wedding night. No saggy, faded Hanes for Her with tired elastic under my dress. I’m a swanky bride, baby, all satin and lace for my undercarriage.”
“This disaster stuff – it’s a rare genetic anomaly. Some people have naturally straight teeth or curly hair or an affinity for math; my mother has the opposite of a Midas touch. It seems to have leaked into my DNA.”
“She’s adorned in so many animal prints – like she crashed into a safari or a blackjack table filled with Florida retirees escaped from their convalescent home.”
“You are a breath of the freshest air.”
I adore Eliza Gordon, her books are just a delight to read and massively entertaining. I want to follow her around and sit at her feet while listening to her warble hilarious and pithy comments all day. I am sure she is constantly bubbling over with naughty fun. I do believe I am decidedly envious of those friends and family members who get to sit with her at the “big kid table” during holiday meals.
In reading her latest missive, I frequently smirked, chortled, and occasionally cackled. I was enchanted with Hollie Porter Builds a Raft, which is the sequel to her first, and one of my all-time favorite books, Must Love Otters. When reading series with a time lapse between books, I often struggle to remember the nuisances of the story as well as who the characters are, given my diminishing mental capacity, poor memory and massive reading list… but that did not prove to be a problem with this story, as Ms. Gordon’s quirky and amusing characters remained fresh in my mind, as if I had stored them in Tupperware and successfully burped their containers as directed. The writing was crisp, smart, and endlessly witty. I specifically enjoyed the amusing and clever banter between Hollie and Ryan, who are perfectly suited to humorous verbal sparring.
The story-line provides one hilarious, mortifying, and least expected adventure after another for the newly engaged couple. While Hollie is more than a bit of a Calamity Jane, once her long absent mother (Lucy) shows up out of the blue waving Hollie’s picture in the newspaper, we soon learn that Lucy bring a whole new level of disaster. Having grown up feeling as if she missed out by not having a mother around, Hollie soon learns that she appears to have been far better off not knowing her crass, loud, bling-loving, uncouth, fire-prone, hirsute, sticky-fingered, banshee shrieking, poker-playing, and somewhat obscene and felonious nuisance of a mother.
I was fearful that between Hollie’s accident prone tendencies and her troublesome mother’s shenanigans, my beloved BBF and the world’s most perfect man, also known as Concierge Ryan, would throw up his hands in surrender. I do just love that man! Thankfully he doesn’t, but Hollie almost does. I adored everything about this book, the colorful descriptions, the sparkling humor, the demon goat, the creative manner in which the chapters are titled, the cast of unique and interesting characters, and of course the otters. I was sad to conclude the book and am currently contemplating my plan of attack to campaign Ms. Gordon into continue their story with a series of adventures, as I don’t believe I could ever get enough of this charming pair.
If a hot dog looks dodgy, don’t eat it.Otherwise, the following things could happen to you:
Your dashing boyfriend of almost one year decides it’s a brilliant idea to spend a few days in Portland to see the Winterhawks as they battle and bulldoze their way into the Memorial Cup playoffs. It’s a big deal. There will be lots of people. Lots of loud, drunk, excited hockey fans.
While you’re in Portland, you’ll stop by and see Dad. Hey, Bob, how are you, how’s work at the hospital, oh wonderful, I see you still have that demonic goat, sure come along with us we’re going to a hockey game but first I’m really hungry because the float plane we flew down on had only a duffel of liquor and expired granola bars, sure I will have a hot dog, how old do you suppose these are?
And you will get ready, wearing a custom Winterhawks jersey that says FIELDING across the back, because you want more than anything for your dashing boyfriend to know the vast expanse of your love for him and that you’re so proud of his rough-and-tumble past in the N-H-L because it has given you access to a world you didn’t know existed. (Namely one that involves a little money and a tiny bit of fame among the hockey crowd.)
Then after braving the huge, rural yard where Mangala the Demon Goat lurks, you will drive with your dad, Nurse Bob, to the Moda Center and while you’re en route, your tummy will feel a little weird but it’s probably fatigue from working long hours at the resort and maybe a little hunger because really, you shouldn’t have helped yourself to so many of those wee little liquor bottles while aboard Miss Lily the Floatplane. She’s a lovely plane—don’t mind the duct tape.
Inside the Moda Center, you will find your seats, comp tickets, of course, for Ryan Fielding: Local Hero. The folks sitting around you are stoked to meet a real hockey star and you smile while Ryan shakes hands and signs programs, and you bob your head when people ask if you’re the girl who saved him from the cougar, even though moving your head makes the world a bit spinny and maybe it’s just best you sit still and watch the crowd and the promos on the Jumbotron.
After the second period, your team is winning—Go ’Hawks!—and that pesky Kiss Cam will shine on you, although your stomach is REALLY not feeling great at all, but instead of leaning over to kiss you, your boyfriend pulls you to your feet and then the entire arena sort of quiets down as the announcer calls attention to “former Vancouver Canucks defensemen who works hard year round with hockey charities to raise money for kids in sport, please give a rousing welcome to Misterrrr Ryaaaaan Fieldingggggg!” and then there are cheers and hollers and beer is spilled, but not much, because it is beer after all.
Followed by your tall hunk of a man getting down on one knee and offering up a little box with a sparkly thing shining out of it.
Accompanied by oohs and ahhs, and some words you think sound pretty but really all you can hear is the roar in your head because your stomach is going into full revolt, all you can do is smile, put your hand on his cheek, and then barf all over your seat. As if that weren’t enough, your knees buckle and you last remember hitting your head on something very hard. Likely concrete. Just don’t think about your cheek against the sticky dirtiness from the aforementioned spilled beer and forgotten hockey arena snacks.
You’ve waited your whole life for your Kiss Cam moment, and this is what you do with it?
Also: it was definitely the hot dog.
Eliza Gordon has excellent taste in books, shoes, movies, and friends, and questionable sanity in the realm of love. Best leave that one alone. In real life, she’s an editor, mom, wife, and bibliophile and proud parent of one very spoiled tuxedo cat. Eliza writes stories to help you believe in the Happily Ever After; Jennifer Sommersby, her other self, writes YA and is repped by Daniel Lazar at Writers House.
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