Second Hand by Michael Zadoorian Rating: 3 stars
I chose this book solely for the Alphabet Challenge - not too many Z authors out there! And I'm glad I did.
Hipster Richard (aka "Junk") owns a junk shop in Detroit and he's obsessed with obtaining more and more of it. We follow him to estate sales, Salvation Army stores, and yard sales in pursuit of the perfect items. The descriptions of the items are some of the best parts of the books - a bowling-ball shaped liquer dispenser, 50's Formica dining sets, a lighter shaped like a tiny camera, just to name a few.
But when his mother dies from cancer, Richard is in charge of getting the "junk" out of his childhood home (while his "normal" responsible sister Linda arranges for the actual disposal of the house) but he finds that it's different when it's his own dead mother's stuff and not someone else's. After years of (involuntary) celibacy, Theresa, a "junk goddess" with a horrific job at an animal shelter, a tempestuous personality, and a thing for skeletons, walks into his store and Junk is smitten. But both of them are facing life crises (Richard finds himself overwhelmed by junk and Theresa's job is getting to be too much to bear) and they can't make the relationship work.
After much drama over their breakup and a drastic cry for help from Theresa, Richard decides to make her dream of attending the Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico come true. There, in a very touching scene that I won't give away, they both find themselves healed.
A note of warning, if you're a big animal-lover, the descriptions of Theresa's job might be too much for you - Zadoorian doesn't pussy-foot (pardon the pun) around the horrors of how some people treat animals. And Theresa and Richard's spirals into despair were almost a bit too much, but that part was redeemed by the trip to Mexico. But overall, I found it a quick, quirky read with both humour and heartache. And it made me want to go out and buy some junk! :-)