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December 13 , 2008

What If the Hokey Pokey Really Is What It’s All About?


"Dear Diary: I am still a virgin, which is not so unusual if you've never had a boyfriend."

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The Ukrainian in Me

When thirty-year-old independent web designer Larissa Androshchuk separates from her husband after nine months, one day, and a morning, she blames it on the Ukrainian curse that has dogged her family for generations; she believes that all Androshchuks are destined to fail at whatever they do. Larissa moves back to her former room in the basement…

What If the Hokey Pokey Really Is What It’s All About? is a mother-daughter road tale from the comic diary of fourteen-year-old Piccolo Poggioli. On a trip stretching from Niagara Falls to Las Vegas, Piccolo and her operatic mother Judy fail at being adventurous and fall out with everyone they meet, from rich slimeball Uncle Spike to their adopted Irish Setter Salsa, who is either autistic or hates their guts.

It’s not only the dog that doesn’t warm up to them. Hippie pet therapists, Las Vegas showgirls, ex-game show hosts, and crackpot relatives pose as human roadblocks to happiness on their fractured journey. Filling in the cracks are evil temp agency bosses and lewd truckers. Piccolo longs to go home, but her parents are not quite ready to merge again.

Early on, Piccolo replaces her diary’s cheesy affirmations with her own sarcastic sayings, pet peeves, random factoids, and slogans from bumper stickers and t-shirts. Best discovery in the category of Bathroom Graffiti: “What If the Hokey Pokey Really is What It’s All About?” By the time Piccolo and her mother wash up at the St. Pius X homeless shelter, this slogan has begun to seem downright deep. Ironically, Piccolo’s love of words and the classic story she’s been reading the entire trip, Les Miserables (from the book, not the musical), helps her and her mother find their way back home again.

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