LOVESICK

A south-of-the-border Gone With the Wind by one of Mexico's bestselling authors (Mexican Bolero, 1990) describes a spirited girl's love affairs played out against the backdrop of the 1911 revolution—with all the quirky trappings of magic realism and a few postmodern asides as well. Borrowing freely from the mannerisms of Gabriel Garc°a MÖrquez and Laura Esquivel, Mastretta casts a beguiling spell. In a series of loopy thumbnail biographies and quickly sketched scenes, he describes the Cuenca and Sauri families and the progressive, artistic, and Europeanized society of Puebla that they belong to. When young Emilia Sauri pushes snotty Daniel Cuenca into a pond and then jumps in after, we know that one day they'll be tearing at each other's clothes in overheated desire—which they do, with great regularity, as the revolution looms, explodes into war, succeeds, then tragically fails to change anything. But while Daniel grows up to be a revolutionary, Emilia apprentices in medicine with his father, which leaves them poles apart—a pattern echoed in the relationship between Emilia's mother, Josefa, whose world revolves around love, and her sister, Milagros, for whom justice is the soul's rallying cry. Jealous of Daniel's other mistress—politics—Emilia nearly marries the wonderful Dr. Antonio Zavalza, then leaps to join Daniel as he makes plans and plots with various generals, including Zapata and Villa, whose ragtag armies she ministers to. In the end, she refuses to choose at all, living with the doctor, entertaining amorous visits from Daniel, and having many children—by whom? It all feels very much as if arranged by an author determined to have life conform to desire. Vivid, with a knack for memorable aphorism and magical detail, yet curiously unmoving at its ``lovesick'' heart, this is one epic that, with good casting, may play better on the screen than on the page. (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 1, 1997

ISBN: 1-57322-062-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1997

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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

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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

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