Heartwarming, tearjerking small-town romance from veteran Delinsky (A Woman's Place, p. 8, etc.), replete with an out-of-body experience. Bree Miller, a well-liked waitress at an unbelievably good diner in Panama, Vermont, is hit by a car on a snowy night and, during surgery, ``dies'' briefly. While her heart's stopped, Bree is aware of floating above the operating table and of encountering a loving and gentle bright light. When she wakes up, she also remembers having been given three wishes—although after her third wish is granted, the deal goes, her life will be over. She also, when she wakes up, finds herself being taken care of by Tom Gates, a bestselling author in the John Grisham mold, who has come to little Panama to escape his celebrity status and to try to find himself. Although it wasn't Tom's fault, it was his car that hit Bree, and so this ``movie starhandsome'' guy now finds that the time he spends caring for Bree helps him feel better about himself. He has, in fact, given up his fast-track life out of guilt over his mother's death: He rarely visited her, and when she died (of cancer), he was sailing the Adriatic with his equally famous friends. Bree helps to make him into a much nicer guy. Indeed, he becomes a supremely thoughtful man, fetching and carrying for Bree and listening to her concerns. Eventually, they fall in love, of course, and he gives Bree a really swell diamond engagement ring. Bree finally makes her three wishes—but not very shrewdly. When the white light comes for her (she's found with a serene smile on her face), the bereft Tom manages to go on with the help of his newborn son and the loving small-town Panamanians. Delinsky rises above gag-me-with-a-spoon melodrama—though just barely.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-684-84507-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1997

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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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