Sohn deserves recognition for addressing some rather dark issues and for avoiding tidy conclusions, but her story would have...


The author of Run Catch Kiss (1999) gets domesticated.

In the late ‘90s, Sohn turned her romantic misadventures into a regular gig with New York Press and a debut novel. But what does a sex columnist do when she grows up? She gets married, moves to Brooklyn, has a kid and writes all about it, first in New York magazine’s “Mating” and “Breeding” columns and now here. Sohn’s first novel appeared with chick lit’s first wave and earned positive reviews for being smart and edgy. Mommy lit was, in retrospect, the inevitable successor to all those novels about pink cocktails, designer shoes and true love, but Allison Pearson’s I Don’t Know How She Does It, which arrived in the United States in 2002, was the simultaneous genesis and apotheosis of that genre. Sohn’s latest seems more than anything like an attempt to cash in on a trend. The novel follows the intersecting lives of four very different women. Rebecca is a freelance writer with a baby girl and a husband who is basically perfect in every way except that he no longer wants to have sex with his wife. Lizzie’s commitment to attachment parenting may be at least in part a reaction to her ambivalence about her mixed-race child and his mostly absent musician father. Melora is a famous actress with an adopted son and serious problems. Karen is a stay-at-home mom, a real-estate fetishist and a total sociopath. All these women live in Park Slope, and their bemused “only in Park Slope!” observations are the novel’s most annoying feature.

Sohn deserves recognition for addressing some rather dark issues and for avoiding tidy conclusions, but her story would have been significantly more satisfying if she had understood that the phenomena she chronicles, from one-upmomship on the playground to the libido-less marriage, have been well documented beyond the confines of brownstone Brooklyn.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-4165-7763-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2009

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


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

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More about grief and tragedy than romance.


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

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