A highly readable novel of courtroom and interpersonal drama.

ANNE LEVY'S LAST CASE

In Sattler’s (Dog Days, 2013) courtroom drama, a veteran public defender revisits an old case as she faces the end of her career.

Anne Levy must decide whether to resign or be fired after two decades working as a public defender in Tucson, Arizona. The immediate cause of her downfall is a personality conflict with a recently arrived, by-the-book boss, but it quickly becomes clear that Anne also has a number of personal and professional secrets. Sattler uses frequent flashbacks to show Anne’s neurological disorder, her many failed relationships, and the case that nearly brought an end to her career. Despite Anne’s prickly, often abrupt attitude toward other people in her life, she’s an engaging character as she grows to accept her humanity without ever losing her edge. The author also vividly draws the supporting characters, including Gina, Anne’s secretary and staunchest ally; and Brian, who broke up with Anne when she always put her work first, but remains a reliable, platonic friend. The descriptions of the jails, courtrooms and public defender’s office are also strong, leaving readers smelling the stale coffee and fearing the short-tempered judge, just as the characters do. It’s sometimes difficult to tell when the narrative moves between a flashback and the present, and these transitions could have been more polished. But Sattler is skilled at dialogue, effectively using it to develop the characters: “Look Alberto, I’m not your social director. I’m here to help with your case,” Anne tells a new client; in another exchange, her advice is: “If you’re going to hide out in Mexico to avoid trial, stay there.” The end result is an enjoyable, realistic depiction of one woman’s midlife reassessment of herself and her choices.

A highly readable novel of courtroom and interpersonal drama.

Pub Date: May 19, 2014

ISBN: 978-1496026170

Page Count: 208

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2014

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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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