Heartfelt, yes, but pretty routine.

THE THINGS WE DO FOR LOVE

Life lessons.

Angie Malone, the youngest of a big, warm Italian-American family, returns to her Pacific Northwest hometown to wrestle with various midlife disappointments: her divorce, Papa’s death, a downturn in business at the family restaurant, and, above all, her childlessness. After several miscarriages, she, a successful ad exec, and husband Conlan, a reporter, befriended a pregnant young girl and planned to adopt her baby—and then the birth mother changed her mind. Angie and Conlan drifted apart and soon found they just didn’t love each other anymore. Metaphorically speaking, “her need for a child had been a high tide, an overwhelming force that drowned them. A year ago, she could have kicked to the surface but not now.” Sadder but wiser, Angie goes to work in the struggling family restaurant, bickering with Mama over updating the menu and replacing the ancient waitress. Soon, Angie befriends another young girl, Lauren Ribido, who’s eager to learn and desperately needs a job. Lauren’s family lives on the wrong side of the tracks, and her mother is a promiscuous alcoholic, but Angie knows nothing of this sad story and welcomes Lauren into the DeSaria family circle. The girl listens in, wide-eyed, as the sisters argue and make wisecracks and—gee-whiz—are actually nice to each other. Nothing at all like her relationship with her sluttish mother, who throws Lauren out when boyfriend David, en route to Stanford, gets her pregnant. Will Lauren, who’s just been accepted to USC, let Angie adopt her baby? Well, a bit of a twist at the end keeps things from becoming too predictable.

Heartfelt, yes, but pretty routine.

Pub Date: July 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-345-46750-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2004

Did you like this book?

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

BAREFOOT

Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

FRIENDS FOREVER

Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more