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High-grade romance energized by environmental awareness: not a toxic mix.

Best-selling Delinsky (Lake News, 1999, etc.) imagines 21st-century life in the town that inspired Grace Metalious’s notorious novel.

Annie Barnes also comes from Middle River, N.H., even though she now lives in Washington, D.C., and Annie’s nearing the two-million-copy mark for her third novel, though of course that doesn’t match Grace’s sales. When Annie returns home after her mother’s death, everyone in town, including her sisters Phoebe and Sabina, is convinced she’s there to expose all of Middle River’s dirty little secrets. (Readers will have to take it on faith that small-town folks can be as idiotically accusative as Delinsky makes them here.) About 70 percent of Middle River’s income derives from the Northwood paper mill, ruled by awful Aidan Meade. Now 33 and on his third marriage, Aidan once stood up plain-Jane Annie for the high-school prom (he was having an affair with a married woman). No, she’s not out for vengeance; she just wants to know whether her mother’s fatal illness, the symptoms of which are now replicated in Phoebe, is related in any way to mercury waste from the paper mill. The author’s research on mercury poisoning gives this story some stature above that of its agonizingly small-minded characters. (Just in case that’s too high-minded, Delinsky throws in an underaged teenager having sex on a dark road and a police chief addicted to painkillers.) Annie gets a list of people whose sicknesses may stem from mercury poisoning. The townsfolk get more and more upset with her. Soon Grace appears inside Annie’s head, and the pair of writers begin an endless conversation. Meanwhile, Annie starts running in the morning and meets fellow jogger James Meade, Aidan’s handsome, well-spoken brother. She gets her big break when a mysterious correspondent begins telling her secrets via e-mail. Will the truth come out at last?

High-grade romance energized by environmental awareness: not a toxic mix.

Pub Date: July 19, 2005

ISBN: 0-7432-4644-6

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2005

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Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Sisters work together to solve a child-abandonment case.

Ellie and Julia Cates have never been close. Julia is shy and brainy; Ellie gets by on charm and looks. Their differences must be tossed aside when a traumatized young girl wanders in from the forest into their hometown in Washington. The sisters’ professional skills are put to the test. Julia is a world-renowned child psychologist who has lost her edge. She is reeling from a case that went publicly sour. Though she was cleared of all wrongdoing, Julia’s name was tarnished, forcing her to shutter her Beverly Hills practice. Ellie Barton is the local police chief in Rain Valley, who’s never faced a tougher case. This is her chance to prove she is more than just a fading homecoming queen, but a scarcity of clues and a reluctant victim make locating the girl’s parents nearly impossible. Ellie places an SOS call to her sister; she needs an expert to rehabilitate this wild-child who has been living outside of civilization for years. Confronted with her professional demons, Julia once again has the opportunity to display her talents and salvage her reputation. Hannah (The Things We Do for Love, 2004, etc.) is at her best when writing from the girl’s perspective. The feral wolf-child keeps the reader interested long after the other, transparent characters have grown tiresome. Hannah’s torturously over-written romance passages are stale, but there are surprises in store as the sisters set about unearthing Alice’s past and creating a home for her.

Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Pub Date: March 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-345-46752-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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