I highly recommend this book as a Christmas vacation flight of fancy. Set largely around the holiday season, the book is both a dream to enjoy and a drama on which to spend a little Christmas sentimentality. Join Miranda, the Blocked Poet, as she crafts poems from linked words on a Scrabble board. The game becomes a conceit for the novel; as they rediscover lost loves and kindle new ones, the characters interlock in plot that leads us around the globe and home again.
Just when Miranda thinks she’s out of poems, that teaching is her only creative outlet, she meets an inspiring lover, Ronan, and starts prodigiously posting new poem-pictures on the Internet, under the pseudonym Blocked Poet. Her best friend Danielle warns Miranda that her fling is bound to hurt someone, perhaps herself the most. After Miranda meets up with her childhood best friend, Scott, at their families’ annual Thanksgiving gathering, her feelings for Ronan fade. But her poems do not. At Scott’s encouragement, Miranda markets her Scrabble poems through an agent friend of his. Then, suddenly, Danielle beckons Miranda to Turkey for her surprise wedding. Miranda breaks things off with Ronan and flies off to the wedding with Scott, but Ronan plans revenge. Meanwhile, on their trip, things between Scott and Miranda heat up. Upon their return home, Miranda has to decide how to keep up a relationship with Scott and his six year old daughter, Lynn, while also maintaining her job as poet and teacher. Ronan and the mother of Scott’s daughter, Cassadee, construct obstacles for the fledgling couple. Like Scott says, “it’s like a weird maze…. We have to stay in it to get out of it.”
Miranda, Scott, Lynn, Ronan, Cassadee: Ms Granett weaves these characters together like Miranda shows participants how to arrange their own theme-words on Scrabble boards she sells on her marketing tour. Laced together, the words hint at a story, at meaning, leaving readers’ imaginations to fill in the rest. Ms Granett excels at saying enough, but not too much. “Everyone thinks that poets are these great communicators, so good with words. That was probably one of the greatest myths about poets. They don’t realize that words dazzle some poets, capturing their hearts and interest because of their fleeting nature. What she wanted to say flitted around in her mind like butterflies while she chased after them with a net. Only the mesh of her net was woven with too wide a gauge, and every word just slipped through.” Here, Miranda gropes at how to express her love for Scott. What she expresses clearly is Ms Granett’s skill developing her characters through action more than words. She has lots to work with; they lead busy lives! While Miranda is on a 42 day Poetry tour, Scott has basketball and soccer practice in and around teaching at a Montessori school. Lynn will allow only Scott and Miranda only twenty minutes to sit before she’s off and running again. While at times I wished for more description than “each morsel tasted better than the last” (about croissants in Paris), I don’t think basking in language is Ms Granett’s intention. She uses prose to evoke feeling and to move things along. The novel goes at a quick clip. I finished it in only a few days and could hardly put it down every time I read.
Miranda finally finds herself on Ellen’s talkshow, the last stop on her tour. Ellen asks her, “you play Scrabble by yourself, without any rules. Do you really need to win that badly?” Miranda laughs; she knows Ellen has missed the point on purpose, to get a rise out of her, and a laugh from her audience. Miranda writes not to win but to create and communicate. She says, “as much as I want to stay in this story, I want to get on that plane today and find out the next chapter of that story. It’s like I want to read two books at exactly the same time.” The winsome Scrabble context of this novel allows Ms Granett to let her characters have their cake and eat it too. She gives Miranda a poet’s dream – fame! – while also exploring less fantastical, but nonetheless exciting opportunities like family life. Without needing to win, Triple Love Score is the happy result of well-crafted characters navigating a fun (not frivolous) holiday adventure.