The Mammoth Cheese - Sheri Holman Sheri Holman is becoming one of my favorite authors. The Mammoth Cheese wasn't as much fun to read as my first exposure to Holman - The Dress Lodger - but I still enjoyed it a lot, and Holman continues to create believably quirky characters and believably "mostly happy" endings. As I've mentioned in other contexts, I am drawn toward stories where the protagonists are constantly talking past each other yet - somehow - manage to cope with all that life throws at them and come through in the end.

In The Mammoth Cheese, Holman focuses on the lives of five characters: Margaret Pritchett, whose dairy farm is rapidly sliding into bankruptcy; her daughter, Polly, a precocious 13-year-old who has an unhealthy crush on her History teacher, Mr. Marsh; August Vaughn, whose crush on Margaret is less objectionable than Polly's but is ruining his life; Leland Vaughn, August's father and preacher, who is having a crisis of conscience; and Manda Frank, whose 11-baby pregnancy briefly puts Three Chimneys, Va., on the map.

The closest Holman comes to a "bad guy" in this novel is Mr. Marsh. He first appears as one of those rebellious, inspiring teachers that can fundamentally change his students' lives but it's all a cover for the fact that he's a serial pedophile. And, yes, he can change his students' lives but not for the better. Otherwise, the story is driven by everyone's attempts to make some sort of sense and meaning out of their lives, and I had a good time finding out how they did it.