An ideal, frothy beach book.


Debut author Lea presents a quaint snapshot of small-town life and explores the bonds of friendship and love in her novel.

Sara’s life has fallen apart. Following her divorce and recent job loss, she is out of options and low on cash. In a last-ditch effort to pull her life together, Sara packs up her teenage daughter, Ginny, and moves back to her childhood home—the charming seaside town of Destinybay. But things have changed in Sara’s absence; the once-bustling downtown is now home to several vacant storefronts and a plethora of available parking spaces. Her best friends, Alex and Diana, have family problems of their own. The only constant is Sara’s mother, whose distant, disapproving attitude hasn’t changed since Sara fled home years ago. Given the title of the book, it’s no surprise when destiny knocks and things begin looking up. Sara reconnects with friends and establishes a tentative truce with her mother. Robert, a kindly family friend and businessman, takes on the role of fairy godmother when he offers to finance the reopening of a defunct coffee shop. The cafe brings challenges, new friends and professional fulfillment for Sara, as it becomes the locus of a downtown revitalization. Yet Sara finds herself distracted by her former childhood sweetheart, Sam, who makes it clear he’s never gotten over her. Lea presents a lively cast, tossing in enough pop-culture references to make Lorelai Gilmore proud. Sam and Sara’s relationship is central here, but the lasting friendship of Lea’s female protagonists is also a significant, intriguing facet of her novel. The author ably follows several storylines, including the inner workings of Alex’s and Diana’s lives. Lea paints a homey, if clichéd, picture of small-town life. Her descriptions of harvest festivals, town parades, summer camps and eccentric personalities drop the reader right in the middle of the archetypal town square.

An ideal, frothy beach book.

Pub Date: April 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-1480805149

Page Count: 394

Publisher: Archway Publishing

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2014

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


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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