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One for the Road: Ingrid Anders' "Earth to Kat Vespucci"
Ingrid Anders understands, and in her debut novel "Earth to Kat Vespucci" (iUniverse), Anders' title character makes all the mistakes in the book (except for the margarita mix-up) on her first trip abroad. Kat Vespucci is a senior at Rutgers University when she runs from heartbreak by signing up for a year abroad in Berlin, Germany. The school year marks her first time abroad, and the mishaps start as soon as Kat leaves the airport and attempts to buy a pass for the train: Kat is confronted by not only the different ways in which transport operates outside the US (you mean you buy a ticket, but no one checks it?), but also an often-befuddling European bureaucracy.
Other topics Anders covers include such light-hearted ones as water-saving showers, country-wide Sunday store closures, sexual freedom (yes, fellow Americans, we are just a little bit repressed), the difference between pepperoni and peperoni, and many European males' lack of macho-ness (is her roommate gay? A metrosexual? Or simply European?).
The book is in no way anti-American, and I don't want to give that impression at all. Rather, Anders skillfully and humorously navigates a sheltered young woman's eye-opening experience abroad. Fortunately., Europe is a tame introduction to the "rest" of the world, and Kat is a curious and intelligent explorer. Anyone who took their first trip abroad as an adult will likely identify with many of her bumblings, and with this character, Anders shows herself to be a promising new novelist.