Roseanna Plow is perfectly content with her nice, simple life on Long Island, despite the fact that she’s being driven slowly insane by her meddling mother, who resembles Donna Reed on drugs.  Rosie is very happy with her handsome husband and a fulfilling career as job counselor for the developmentally challenged.  It might not be glamorous work, but Rosie is proud of the fact that she cares more about people than Prada.  What more could a woman want in life?  Except maybe being able to wear a sexy thong that doesn’t make her behind look like a rump roast in butcher string…  But when Rosie’s incredible husband turns out to be an incredible putz—running off with her best friend Inga—her life goes from Seventh Heaven to Jerry Springer in the blink of an eye and the tip of a wine glass.  Alone and deceived, but with her sense of humor still intact, Rosie turns to her wonderfully wacky mother to help her bounce back.  Of course, Ma’s recipe for mental recovery leaves much to be desired.  And after Rosie discovers a painful family secret, hidden behind years of lies, she must set out to find herself and what really matters in life. 


Along the way, Rosie is surprised to find help from Mickey Hamilton, a.k.a. Ham, who is kind, generous, and has a great butt to match.  If only Rosie can overlook the fact that he’s nicknamed after the meat section at the local supermarket he manages.  Milton, one of Rosie’s endearing mentally challenged clients--and Ham’s employee--also becomes a source of comfort along the way, always ready to defend “Miss Plow’s” honor and warm her heart, even as it’s breaking.  And can a twenty-five-year-old punk office assistant with hair like candy corn really become Rosie’s new best friend?  As she moves along the twisted road to self-discovery, Rosie finds happiness, acceptance, and even love – though none of it in the places she’d expected. 


With laugh-out-loud scenes seamlessly interspersed among gut-wrenching moments of heartache, Starting Out Sideways is a unique and utterly delightful novel that will make you laugh, cry, and remember what’s truly important in this crazy world.

Starting Out Sideways

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Praise for Starting Out Sideways

“STARTING OUT SIDEWAYS simply sparkles!  Mary E. Mitchell's debut novel is a fabulous story of joy and heartache, laughter and love.” 

--Claire Cook, author of Must Love Dogs and Life's a Beach


“I don't know when I've read a book whose protagonist is as beset by heartache and worries as Rosie Plow, and yet manages to deliver such mirth and comfort.  Mary E. Mitchell knows how to laugh at problems without minimizing them, and how to honor hard times without losing sight of a brighter picture.  She has written a novel that is a rolicking pleasure, jam-packed with twists, and above all, brimming with warmth.”

--Leah Hager Cohen, author of Heart, You Bully, You Punk and House Lights


“Heartbreaking, redeeming, and beautifully written.”

--Kim Gruenenfelder, author of A Total Waste of Makeup

“The last word of Mary E. Mitchell's STARTING OUT SIDEWAYS is "delicious" and for good reason.  Her novel is delectable from start to finish.  Her heroine Rosanna Plow is a witty blend of would-be Cosmo girl and deeply caring counselor of her special needs clients.  The clients, her co-workers and her bossy loudmouth mother are both funny and authentic.  And the surprises keep coming right through to the end.  There is a larger theme here: the damaging effect of our body-obsessed culture on women's self-esteem.  But Mitchell never allows the theme to interfere with the swift pace and surprising path of Rosanna's journey toward love--of both the romantic and the familial kind.”

--Susan Quinn, author of A Mind of Her Own, The Life of Karen Horney, Marie Curie, A Life, and Human Trials

“Hilarious and heart-wrenching, STARTING OUT SIDEWAYS is a superb debut from a fresh and funny new voice in contemporary fiction.  Mary E. Mitchell is going to be with us for a while, I think."

--Tracy McArdle, author of Confessions of a Nervous Shiksa, and Real Women Eat Beef

“Mary E. Mitchell creates her zany characters with a sure hand, a breezy wit, and lots of love.  The pace of STARTING OUT SIDEWAYS is nonstop and the humor delicious.”

--Mary Hays, author of Learning to Drive


We live in hard times.  That's one reason why a feel-good book like Mary E. Mitchell's delightful STARTING OUT SIDEWAYS is so valuable.  But there are many more reasons to love this book: the characters, who, utterly endearing or deliciously fun to hate, are so fully fleshed out you'll feel you ought to offer them a chair.  The full-of surprises story that keeps you rapidly turning pages.  The humor that makes you laugh out loud--literally--balanced by a well-earned poignancy.  The writing is fluid and natural and smart.  The ideas explored here, about what's most important in people and in relationships, make you think in new ways about your own life.  Most importantly, there is a humanity exhumed in this book that makes you feel proud and hopeful about being a human on planet Earth.  These days, that's a rare and wonderful thing.

--Elizabeth Berg, New York Times bestselling author