An ideal, frothy beach book.

DEFINING DESTINY

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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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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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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