Amiable, though the manic narrative style can be grating.

CHOSE THE WRONG GUY, GAVE HIM THE WRONG FINGER

A runaway bride, competing brothers, a potential gold digger and a 30-day “reinvent yourself” challenge provide laughs in this latest from Harbison’s good-girls-making-bad-choices arsenal.

Long ago, Quinn almost had it all: She was moments away from marrying Burke Morrison, high school’s sexiest nice guy and heir to a dreamy Virginia horse farm where Quinn would happily live. That is, until Burke’s older brother, Frank, knocked on the vestry door and dropped a bomb: Burke had been cheating on Quinn. The wedding was called off. A few days later (in a blur of rage and misery), she and Frank drove to Vegas, where they engaged in some regrettable intimacy. Ten years later, Quinn is still wondering what went wrong. Why did she trust Frank’s story? Why didn’t she talk it over with Burke? Ironically, she designs wedding dresses and comforts nervous brides, but her own romantic life is stuck in the deep freeze. When Morrison matriarch Dottie comes in to have a wedding dress made, Quinn gets plenty of opportunity to resolve her issues. Although Dottie has reached her golden years (she’s Frank and Burke’s grandmother), she still wants a little romance and has found it in Lyle, a much younger furniture salesman she met online. When they marry, Dottie will sell the farm (this is unbearable to Quinn, since she spun her best fantasies there), and soon, Frank and Burke will be in town to help her pack up—that is if they can’t dissuade her from marrying what they suspect is a gold digger. Best friend Glenn sees the strain Quinn is under and so creates daily challenges (drink all day long, try speed dating, wear a side pony) in hopes of raising Quinn's courage. With Burke and Frank both in town, Quinn can rehash the past in order to create a future. The question is, which brother will be in it?

Amiable, though the manic narrative style can be grating.

Pub Date: July 9, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-59913-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: June 9, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2013

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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...

FLY AWAY

Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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THE COLDEST WINTER EVER

Debut novel by hip-hop rap artist Sister Souljah, whose No Disrespect (1994), which mixes sexual history with political diatribe, is popular in schools country-wide. In its way, this is a tour de force of black English and underworld slang, as finely tuned to its heroine’s voice as Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. The subject matter, though, has a certain flashiness, like a black Godfather family saga, and the heroine’s eventual fall develops only glancingly from her character. Born to a 14-year-old mother during one of New York’s worst snowstorms, Winter Santiaga is the teenaged daughter of Ricky Santiaga, Brooklyn’s top drug dealer, who lives like an Arab prince and treats his wife and four daughters like a queen and her princesses. Winter lost her virginity at 12 and now focuses unwaveringly on varieties of adolescent self-indulgence: sex and sugar-daddies, clothes, and getting her own way. She uses school only as a stepping-stone for getting out of the house—after all, nobody’s paying her to go there. But if there’s no money in it, why go? Meanwhile, Daddy decides it’s time to move out of Brooklyn to truly fancy digs on Long Island, though this places him in the discomfiting position of not being absolutely hands-on with his dealers; and sure enough the rise of some young Turks leads to his arrest. Then he does something really stupid: he murders his wife’s two weak brothers in jail with him on Riker’s Island and gets two consecutive life sentences. Winter’s then on her own, especially with Bullet, who may have replaced her dad as top hood, though when she selfishly fails to help her pregnant buddy Simone, there’s worse—much worse—to come. Thinness aside: riveting stuff, with language so frank it curls your hair. (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-02578-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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