An extremely satisfying tale about the realities of marriage and love.


In this literary novel, two intertwined marriages on the rocks are brought to a crisis point.

Marine veteran Denny D’Angelo still suffers from medical problems he sustained during the Persian Gulf War: “The scent from a woman’s perfume, a fresh coat of paint on a neighbor’s house, even spring pollen, can set off days in the dark with migraine or debilitating allergy attacks.” His wife, school librarian Willow, has never forgiven him for joining the Marines in the first place, and she resents his refusal, after getting back home, to help her fulfill her dream of motherhood. Now that she’s started to have feelings for another man, she’s decided she wants a divorce. That other man is Blake Golden, a high school principal who has also tired of his marriage to a wife he cannot please. Jillian dreamed of becoming a ballet dancer, but ever since that goal proved impossible, she’s limped through life, unable to be the wife or mother her family needs. All their plans are thrown off when Willow is involved in a car accident and slips into a coma. How did these couples get to this place? And where will they go from here? Tramontano’s (Standing on the Corner of Lost and Found, 2011) expressive prose intimately follows the thoughts of her characters: “Willow’s desolation deepened each month. When she could barely drag herself through a day, she finally got pregnant again. She promised herself she would tell Denny the evening the doctor confirmed it, but didn’t. Never told him about the miscarriage either.” The four main players are all well drawn and compelling, though a reporter who takes an interest in the couples—Lily Lerner, who is undergoing her own personal crisis—seems like a bit of a fifth wheel. Things wrap up too neatly, perhaps—particularly with Lily there to explain everything on her blog—but as the plot unspools, readers will mostly feel like they are being granted an authentic view into the lives of the characters. The author plays with the expectations people have going into marriages and how often they are disappointed—but also how the potential for change is often waiting somewhere on the next block.

An extremely satisfying tale about the realities of marriage and love.

Pub Date: Feb. 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-949180-47-3

Page Count: 428

Publisher: Adelaide Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 2, 2019

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The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with...


Talk-show queen takes tumble as millions jeer.

Nora Bridges is a wildly popular radio spokesperson for family-first virtues, but her loyal listeners don't know that she walked out on her husband and teenaged daughters years ago and didn't look back. Now that a former lover has sold racy pix of naked Nora and horny himself to a national tabloid, her estranged daughter Ruby, an unsuccessful stand-up comic in Los Angeles, has been approached to pen a tell-all. Greedy for the fat fee she's been promised, Ruby agrees and heads for the San Juan Islands, eager to get reacquainted with the mom she plans to betray. Once in the family homestead, nasty Ruby alternately sulks and glares at her mother, who is temporarily wheelchair-bound as a result of a post-scandal car crash. Uncaring, Ruby begins writing her side of the story when she's not strolling on the beach with former sweetheart Dean Sloan, the son of wealthy socialites who basically ignored him and his gay brother Eric. Eric, now dying of cancer and also in a wheelchair, has returned to the island. This dismal threesome catch up on old times, recalling their childhood idylls on the island. After Ruby's perfect big sister Caroline shows up, there's another round of heartfelt talk. Nora gradually reveals the truth about her unloving husband and her late father's alcoholism, which led her to seek the approval of others at the cost of her own peace of mind. And so on. Ruby is aghast to discover that she doesn't know everything after all, but Dean offers her subdued comfort. Happy endings await almost everyone—except for readers of this nobly preachy snifflefest.

The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with syrupy platitudes about life and love.

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-609-60737-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2001

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in White society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so Black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her White persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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