Books listed in this column are not necessarily recommended by The Times.
Where's Ours? by Natalie McKelvy (Academy Chicago Publishers, 425 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611, $7.95 paperbound) features as its heroine Marcia (Marsh) Bernthal, a real estate loan analyst in a big Chicago bank. Although she and her husband Hodgkins (Gin) drive a silver Volvo, these "thirtysomething" yuppies are decidedly downscale ones, living in a two-flat in an unfashionable part of Chicago's North Side. Gin is an English teacher in an inner city Catholic high school and he earns much less than his wife. Marsh has a male chauvinist boss (what other kind is there at a bank?) who turns over a promising shopping center job she's been developing to a male co-worker who is five years her junior. The Bernthals borrow heavily from inlaws to buy a suburban house a short time after Gin loses his job and gets an even lower paying one in an outer suburban public school. Both Gin and Marsh have affairs with sympathetic people when they feel they've been neglected or treated unfairly at home. This all sounds depressing, but McKelvy's characters sound and act like real people we've all met. Gin and Marsh experience real problems, such as running short of money a day or so before payday (Gin), pigging out on chocolate chip cookies (Marsh) and getting in way over their heads financially to buy a house (Gin and Marsh). The title graphically if somewhat peevishly asks the essential question about mobility in America today. Gin and Marsh are failing miserably in their efforts to equal--yet alone exceed--the financial stability of their parents. They are quick to compare their standard of living with friends who seem to go out more often, move to the most upscale suburbs, balance their checkbooks and have great sex lives. McKelvy is a former reporter for the Chicago Tribune who has written extensively about real estate, so the career details ring true. I was prepared to dislike this book intensely--as I have most books about yuppies--but I found myself laughing along with the Bernthals. If this is the last book about yuppies, it might end up being one of the best.