A mishmash of The Devil Wears Prada, Sex and the City and various coming-of-age flicks, the novel works fine as a light...


A recently minted college graduate learns she can’t always get what she wants.

“Based on the screenplay by Kelly Fremon” (the cover avers) for the upcoming romantic comedy of the same title, this is less a novelization than a first-person adaptation. Cassel succeeds at getting into the head of her naïve main character, only to find that there’s not much substance there. Narrator Ryden Malby launches her autobiographical sketch with her graduation from a generic California college. Her degree is all part of an overarching life scheme. “I devised the plan years ago,” she confides. “It was called, very cleverly, ‘the Plan,’ and it was pretty straightforward.” After distinguishing herself academically in high school and college, Ryan plans to land a job in her first week out of school at a major Los Angeles publishing house; marry the literary wunderkind she admires; and stay close to best friend Adam Davies, a guitar-playing slacker whose affection remains unrequited. As they tend to do in these things, Ryden’s big plans go awry. Her primo job is stolen by her fiercest college competitor, and she’s ejected from her swanky new apartment. Soon she’s living at home while struggling to find a job she deems worthy. Insert a montage of disastrous interviews; a quirky family whose standouts include Ryden’s belt buckle–shilling father and her no-nonsense grandmother; and David, a cliché-ridden hot Brazilian neighbor shipped in from central casting. “I mean, really, they smoldered, like little black fires,” says Ryden of hunky dory’s eyes.

A mishmash of The Devil Wears Prada, Sex and the City and various coming-of-age flicks, the novel works fine as a light beach read, but is no more demanding than an afternoon at the movies.

Pub Date: June 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-312-59626-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2009

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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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