About this time last year, I read Rules of the Road, by Joan Bauer (2000) (here's my review). I thought it was great fun taking a road trip through the world of shoe sales with its heroine, Jenna, and the grand dame of the show world, Mrs. Gladstone, whose chauffeur she became for a summer. So I was most pleased last week to find on the shelf of my very own library its sequel, Best Foot Forward (2005).
Jenna is back in school, and back in the shoe store, and it is the business of shoe selling that is uppermost in her mind. For the quality and customer service that her chain of stores stands for is under threat, and Jenna must unravel a chain of corporate greed and third world exploitation to protect both the chain and Mrs. Gladstone. And there's the matter of Tanner Cobb, a new employee in the store with a dodgy past, and uncertain future, and a nack for shoe sales, not to mention the nice doughnut store guy...
Without the road trip to carry it along, this must have been a tougher book to write, and as a stand alone, I'm not sure how well it works. But I truly enjoy the shoeish details with which Baur packs her story, and I like Jenna a lot (I'm one of those weak readers who likes to like the main character). I'm not sure I believe in her exactly, because her life and competence in the Shoe World is rather incredible, and her non-shoe world is very shadowy, but I do enjoy her!
Joan Bauer has a new book, Peeled, coming out tomorrow (May 1)! Here are a few reviews--at Bookshelves of Doom, at And Another Book Read and Look Books.