Lively melodrama from the author of six family-centric novels (Into Thin Air, 1993, etc.) in the vein of Jacquelyn Mitchard or Jane Hamilton.
Middle-aged Manhattan book-designer Gary Breyer—orphaned as an infant and raised by a now-dead aunt—watched all his friends marry, breed, and move to the suburbs. He'd resigned himself to a solitary life until he meets Molly Goldman, a redheaded New Jersey schoolteacher (and fellow orphan). After a whirlwind romance, the two marry. But a few days after giving birth to their first child, Otis, Molly's uterus begins to fill with blood and she grows increasingly ill, falling into a coma. Gary takes a leave from work, hires a German nurse (a well-drawn character who provides much-needed comic relief), and begins sifting through medical Web sites in search of information about Molly's condition. As her illness continues seemingly without end, Gary's slimy boss fires him. Gary, in turn, fires the expensive nurse and begs Suzanne, Molly's estranged older sister (a beauty who ran off to California with her rock musician boyfriend when she was 17), to come back east and help take care of Otis. Destitute and friendless, Suzanne readily agrees. When she arrives, however, she behaves like a stubborn teenager: incessantly smoking around Otis, refusing to perform even the simplest household tasks, letting the baby cry endlessly. Then she and Gary spend the night together, caring for the colicky Otis, and Suzanne develops affection for both the son and his father (who has taken a job as a night watchman). Slowly, she evolves into the model aunt and sister-in-law—except that, unfortunately, she's developed a fierce crush on Gary.
Realistic, well-plotted, eminently readable portrait of a family in crisis—and an improvement on Leavitt's usual formula.