A meet-at-the-crossroads novel about three childhood friends reuniting at 40, by the author of Traditions (1981) and The Long Way Home (1984). Joanna is a beautiful, successful public-relations consultant to the stars, wife of an L.A. plastic surgeon. Her adulteries are small and impersonal; she loves her handsome, selfish husband, and their fast-track life. On the East Coast are Dean, an unsuccessful actor and monogamous homosexual; and Sara, wife and mother of four, whose marriage to a Princeton professor buffers her from a frightening world. In one swoop, on the day the three unconvincingly reunite to celebrate their birthdays and attend Sara's son's bar mitzvah, Dean's lover is killed, Joanna dies in the same automobile accident but comes back, while Sara's husband confesses his infidelity. Everything changes. Joanna's Near Death Experience (NDE) distances her from her husband and spoiled daughter, and her now meaningless work; Dean, once supported and housed by dead lover Chris, must reconstruct his career, reach out to his traditional family, and practice safe sex. Meek Sara grows bolder, seeks work and therapy, bravely bears her weakling husband's fifth child. The threesome is hard to root for, and their bond feels manufactured, as they try to be jocular, profound, and intimate by turns, but succeed predominantly in being merely pious. The many self-discoveries on which the story turns are telegraphed early and often, producing a narrative creakiness not much helped by Ebert's earnest but flat-footed prose (""'Are you getting a divorce?' Robert asked confrontationally"").