So much material recycled from earlier novels (Certain Girls, 2008, etc.) that even fans will feel déjà vu.

BEST FRIENDS FOREVER

Weiner proves yet again that women can be their own worst enemies—and shows that women’s worst enemies can also be their best friends.

Addie Downs can’t catch a break. Fat and friendless as a child, she enjoys a few years’ respite from isolation when awkward, neglected Valerie Adler moves in across the street in the Chicago suburb of Pleasant Ridge. Val doesn’t care that Addie’s mom is obese, or that her father doesn’t have a real job; she’s entranced by the idea of hot meals (Naomi Adler’s idea of dinner is Tab and Wheat Thins, topped off with a Salem Light), clean clothes and a regular bedtime. When Val returns with braces and breasts from a summer visiting her father in California, Addie knows the end is near, although she’d never guess how deep Val’s betrayal will be. Alone again, Addie leaves for college only to have her father die before she’s unpacked. Then Mom is diagnosed with breast cancer, and Addie watches her monstrous body wither to a horrifying death. Orphaned at 20, Addie lives alone in her parents’ home, painting watercolors for a greeting-card company. And eating. When she tops 300 pounds, she finally says, “Enough!” and starts a diet and exercise regimen that brings her down to normal proportions. She buys nice clothes, redecorates her house and even has an abortive fling with a married man she meets at the gym. Just as she’s starting to feel normal, Hurricane Val bears down on her. Now a TV weathergirl at a local Chicago station, Val, unlike Addie, can’t resist going to their high-school reunion, where she does something very bad, attracting the attention of Pleasant Ridge’s lonely, needy police chief Jordan Novick. Now Val needs Addie’s help, and though Addie knows she’s being played, she can’t resist her BFF, whose harebrained, selfish, irresponsible behavior leads Addie to unexpected joy.

So much material recycled from earlier novels (Certain Girls, 2008, etc.) that even fans will feel déjà vu.

Pub Date: July 14, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-7432-9429-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2009

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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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More about grief and tragedy than romance.

FRIENDS FOREVER

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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