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THE BOOK NOOK: Please look both ways before reading this novel

“Crossing the Street” by Molly D. Campbell (The Story Plant, 290 pages, $16.95)

Some time ago I had the honor to emcee for a literary event hosted by the Friends of Washington-Centerville Public Library at the Golf Club at Yankee Trace. There was a wine tasting under way — the room was populated by many of my favorite human beings: book lovers, librarians and a slew of writers who were there to autograph books for patrons.

As I wended my way through the festive scene, I stopped and chatted with readers and writers. After a while it all became a bit of blissful blur. I was pleasantly rousted from my bookish daze when I arrived at the table occupied by an author from Oakwood named Molly Campbell.

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She spoke: “Hey! You never reviewed my last book!” She said it so pleasantly. I suggested that when she published her next book she should get in touch with me. And she did.

Recently, Campbell published her latest novel, “Crossing the Street,” and it is a thoroughly entertaining story that revolves around some potently portrayed female characters who reside in the imaginary town of Framington, Ohio.

Campbell’s narrator, Beck Throckmorton, is in her 30s. She is single and works at a Starbucks. Her true occupation — her passion, so to speak — is penning erotic novels that she publishes as a lucrative sideline to her duties in the java trade.

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You could imagine that someone who spends her time crafting steamy prose might have an active love life as well. This is not the case for Beck — her writing is inspired primarily by fantasy these days. As the story opens she is accepting that her life is rather mundane. She isn’t in a relationship and has no desire to get married just for the sake of starting a family.

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She once had a boyfriend. They broke up — then her boyfriend started dating Beck’s sister. Then her sister married that former boyfriend. Ouch, that hurt. Beck has just learned the couple are expecting a baby to arrive soon. This news has Beck putting out more steam than the espresso machines over at the coffee shop. She’s upset.

She’s not alone, though. Her friend Ella is a neighbor. She’s 83. Beck spends a lot of time with her. Then there’s Gail. Beck and Gail have been friends since they were in grade school. Gail had been engaged to a lovely man with a bright future. Then fate intervened.

The central drama in “Crossing the Street” unravels when Ella suddenly finds herself in a difficult position as a young girl, Ella’s great-granddaughter, arrives to stay with Ella because she doesn’t have anywhere else to go. This child — they call her Bob — is a wonderfully resilient kid who has been dislocated by cruel circumstances.

Campbell writes with a seasoned, tender wit. Moments that could feel heavy or serious are infused with comedic elements that keep elevating the story. She balances deep emotions with some very funny lines. This gifted humorist has won two Erma Bombeck Writing Awards. “Crossing the Street” is an ideal summer read.

Vick Mickunas of Yellow Springs interviews authors every Saturday at 7 a.m. and on Sundays at 10:30 a.m. on WYSO-FM (91.3). For more information, visit www.wyso.org/programs/book-nook. Contact him at vick@vickmickunas.com.

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