When Franny Stands Up
1951. Franny’s world is filled with conflict. Her brother suffers from PTSD after returning from WWII. Their neighbors are hostile to the ‘colored’ family that recently moved in. Plus, her family is Jewish in a Catholic neighborhood. When Franny upsets the gangster owner of a nightclub, she finds herself up on stage trying to create a Showstopper. The Showstopper is a comedian’s special magic that affects audience members when they laugh. However, it only works on women. Since each Showstopper is different, perhaps Franny can create one to help fix things, a magic that reaches beyond what’s been done before. If she’s going to create it, though, she has to dig deep into her own past trauma and expose some of her darkest secrets. She’ll need to turn her pain into laughter.
This magical realism story offers a glimpse of women’s roles in post-WWII American culture. Once a woman’s game seven years ago (when the book opens), comedy was taken over by men and is too unladylike for Franny and her friends. The author highlights many issues that America faced at this time surrounding race, class, and sexuality. Each character has a past they’re dealing with or a future they’re trying to be brave for, which endears them to readers. Franny, herself, is socially awkward and often puts her foot in her mouth. When Franny Stands Up is a story not just about standing up on a stage, it’s also standing up for what’s right and standing up for yourself. Franny’s journey is sometimes painful but, overall, heartfelt and compelling.