Been There, Done That

Been There, Done That

by Carol Snow

I’m Kim Alexander and this is Fiction Nation. Many of the books that cross my desk involve a woman and a mystery. Most of the time, the woman isn’t a detective or a police officer, but conflict demands resolution (at least in fiction; in my life conflict demands margaritas) and the spunky heroine is the only one who can figure out who did what to whom and what needs to be done about it. That got me to thinking about late 20th century role models for these inquisitive characters. Nancy Drew? I thought about that, but Nancy was famously helpful and cheerful, a good daughter and loyal friend, and I can’t recall her ever being snotty or underhanded. I think the true influence on a generation of female sleuths was Harriet the Spy. Harriet was someone I could relate to — bitter and sneaky. She hung out with a bunch of losers — her friend Jane was like a junior Unabomber — and was suspicious of all adults starting with her parents but excepting her beloved nanny, Ole Golly, who encouraged her to spy on her friends. Yes, Harriet not only inspired me, but a whole bookshelf of maladjusted loners, angry dumped girlfriends, and wacky social cripples.

The latest not-quite-normal gal in line is Kathy Hopkins, the heroine of Been There, Done That. Kathy want to be respected as a Serious Journalist but she has a problem (if you can call I that) — she looks at least a decade younger than her 32 years, and has the figure of a fashion model; that is to say a twelve year old boy. Kathy also has a little problem with speaking up and saying, “No, this is a world class dumb idea,” which is how her ex-boyfriend manipulates her into going back to college and posing as a freshman. The story she’s chasing is incidental to her increasingly exhausting efforts to party all night, study all day, not kill her Clay Aiken-loving roommate, and try and keep her hands off the studly RA, while chasing a possibly imaginary prostitution ring operating on campus.

Author Carol Snow does a lovely job of getting the details of coed life on paper — particulary the speech patterns? That all the girls seem to have? Did we actually talk like that? along with the approved piercing-du-jour, the cliques, and the importance of having just the right music (if you have an Air Supply CD, hide it).

While Kathy is busy looking for prostitutes and doing an increasingly bad job of fighting off the gorgeous young Jeremy (“I’m a Jewish lesbian!”) she inadvertently discovers a hotbed (so to speak) of bad behavior, mostly on the part of the adults. Her exposé does blow the college wide open, but not in the way she intends, and not with the results she wants. Suddenly she’s jobless and friendless. What’s a 21st century snoop to do? Like Ole Golly once told Harriet, “You have to do two things, and you don’t like either one of them. 1. You have to apologize. 2. You have to lie. Otherwise you are going to lose a friend.”

Good advice even if you’re not bitter and sneaky! Been There, Done That is by Carol Snow.


I’m Kim Alexander and this is a Fiction Nation minute. The book is Been There, Done That by Carol Snow.

Kathy Hopkins wants to be taken seriously as a journalist; she can’t help that she looks like a teenager. She can help that even in her 30’s she lives like one, and it all comes together when she goes undercover at a liberal arts college to bust open a hookers-on-campus scandal.  It’s a great opportunity, even if she has to contend with a Clay Aiken-obsessed roommate and eat cafeteria food. In Been There, Done That, Ms. Snow picks just the right clothes, music, piercing, cliques, all of which made me glad I lived off campus. And the speech? Of all the girls? She has done her homework? And totally knows how they talk? Kathy does uncover scandals, but how the story breaks is not what she had in mind. Watching her get in and out of trouble made for a witty, entertaining read. Been There, Done That by Carol Snow. I’m Kim Alexander and this is Fiction Nation on Book Radio, SiriusXM Channel 80.


I’m Kim Alexander and this is a Fiction Nation minute. The book is Been There, Done That by Carol Snow.

Kathy Hopkins is a young journalist — but not as young as she looks. She’s tired of getting carded by the age of 32. But she still acts young — she’s easily pushed around by her boss and her ex-boyfriend, when they conspire to send her undercover to pose as a freshman at a local college. She reluctantly agrees, and takes up partying all night, sleeping all day, cramming in papers, and trying to hook up — why was I anxious to graduate? She actually tries to avoid the advances of the hot and clearly 18 RA. No one like this guy followed me around campus. That’s why. In Been There, Done That, along with the scandals uncovered, Ms. Snow turns a sharp eye on the insecurities, the self consciousness, the bravado that we try to leave behind along with our teens. It made me a little nostalgic, but I leave it to fictional characters to really go back. Been There, Done That by Carol Snow. I’m Kim Alexander on Fiction Nation on Book Radio, SiriusXM Channel 80.


I’m Kim Alexander and this is a Fiction Nation minute. The book is Been There, Done That by first time author Carol Snow.

If you could, would you go back and relive your college days? I personally wouldn’t at gunpoint — although I would like my skin back — but in this book journalist Kathy Hopkins, who just happens to look like an 18 year old despite being over 30, is manipulated into going undercover at a liberal arts college in Massachusetts.  The setup is fine, but it’s Kathy’s college life part deux that sells this witty, clever book. Been There, Done That has our heroine trying to keep up with the actual kids, say the right things, hang with the right people, oh, and write an occasional paper, while all she finally wants to do is go home to her apartment for a glass of wine and real cotton sheets on the bed. Apparently the dorm uses synthetics. So it looks like you really can’t go home again because when you get there, they’re listening to weird music. Been There, Done That by Carol Snow. I’m Kim Alexander on Fiction Nation on Book Radio, SiriusXM Channel 80.


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