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NO PLACE LIKE HOME by Barbara Samuel


by Barbara Samuel

Pub Date: Feb. 4th, 2002
ISBN: 0-345-44565-1
Publisher: Ballantine

A conventional tale about a wayward daughter who returns home with her troubled teenage son.

Jewel Sabatino’s New York apartment is going co-op—but, fortunately, she just inherited her aunt’s house back in Pueblo, Colorado. So she moves back to her hometown with best friend Michael, a gay restaurateur, and her son Shane, the product of an adolescent romance with a musician now dead. The family welcomes her with open arms except for her father, still sulking because Jewel dropped out of school at 17 to have her baby. The stern patriarch, in fact, hasn’t spoken to her since then, though everyone else has forgiven her. Earth mother Jewel gets going by baking dozens of pies for local restaurants and caring for Michael, now near death from AIDS. Although her older sisters Jordan and Jasmine have kept in touch over the years, Jewel has a lot of catching up to do, especially now that her baby sister Jane is about to be married. Jewel realizes that she’s getting older: her bridesmaid’s gown only magnifies her bulges, and her hair is much too long. Reaffirming her womanhood, she decides that it’s okay to be 40 and even, in a notably weak scene, gives thanks to every part of her body, from her fingertips down to the “dark secret between her thighs.” All this succulence is deeply appreciated by her new lover, Michael’s brother Malachi, a six-foot-six hunk for whom Jewel is apparently all he could ever want in a woman. The two ride around on his huge motorcycle when not exchanging passionately meaningful looks and paperback-romance dialogue or shaking their heads over rebellious Shane’s predictable shenanigans. Meanwhile, trite wisdom is exchanged among the women of this Sicilian-American clan as onions are chopped and sauces stirred—and as Jewel muses on the meaning of it all.

Meandering plot and cardboard people in this mainstream debut from romancer Samuel.