by Military Diva
What is reality and what is fantasy? Who gets to decide which is which? Of course I can look and see that my home is (slightly) smaller than my neighbors. And you can look and see that my husband is taller than I am. But when it comes to the lives people live and the choices they make, who gets to decide what is right and what is wrong? Why do we spend so much time boxing other individual’s realities instead of communicating and learning why they view the world in the way they do?
Greg Triggs and his novel The Next Happiest Place on Earth subtly brings us to this question of reality. He introduces us to an imaginary Orlando Theme Park that competes with our beloved Disney World Resort and a cast of characters that could resemble many of our American families.
We are quickly introduced to Frances Fiore. Newly divorced and highly cynical, Ms. Fiore projects the image of one who has everything under control. In an attempt to move on from what we believe is her failed marriage, she chooses to abandon her New York life for sunny central FL; trading non-profit artwork for the corporate world of Planet Binger, the direct competition of Walt Disney World Resort.
Several early chapters of The Next Happiest Place on Earth are spent highlighting the “faults” of Frances’ new home and enraging this reader! Sarcastic references to the imagined Planet Binger and hits taken at many attractions (that resemble Disney icons) hit way too close to home for this Disney loyalist. Frances Fiore was viewing my vacation “heaven” through eyes that weren’t ready to enjoy the fantasy. She only saw the cover.
Frances grudgingly begins to settle into her new job when life starts to move on and reality change. Friends move into her tiny circle, her family grows, and an office romance blooms. Slowly her eyes begin to open to a new life.
As we follow her journey and meet those important in her world, we are quickly met with the stereotypes of these individuals. Frances’ cheating ex-husband , her quirky landlord and her cookie-cutter Human Resource Specialist all add to the idea that what we see is the true reality. But as we learn more of Frances’ story and those involved in her life we begin to realize that right and wrong isn’t as clear as we like to think. Sometimes the jerky ex-husband cheats out of desperation and the need for love. Sometimes the cookie-cutter co-worker is hiding a deeper secret.
Leaving us with a few questions. Why do we seem to focus on the choices others make without considering their reasons? Why do we tend to judge other’s lives through our own life lenses? We are so quick to project our realities onto others, robbing ourselves of the opportunity to love and understand those around us.
Mr. Greg Triggs reminded me of this most important life lesson.
I started reading The Next Happiest Place on Earth believing it was just another disgruntled ex-Disney Cast Member wanting to remind us of all the dark parts of corporate theme park worlds. I thought it was a new author trying to capitalize on the profit and marketing abilities of the Disney company. But as I moved on I understood his humor, drew into his character’s stories and was reminded to not “judge a book by its cover”. Through great wit, sarcastic similarities to Disney World and even a few tear jerking moments Mr. Triggs helped me remember to look beyond the obvious and find the treasure hiding beneath. Look beyond the obvious to a new future.
That is often where you find the best kind of love.
Want to read it for yourself? We have teamed up for a giveaway with Greg. Enter through Rafflecopter below. If you don’t win you can purchase a copy of the book Click here today! Happy reading!
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