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MAKE IT STAY by Joan Frank Kirkus Star


by Joan Frank

Pub Date: March 1st, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-57962-227-5
Publisher: Permanent Press

A novel that peers into relationships in the small town of Mira Flores in northern California.

Rachel, the narrator, writes books and deeply loves her husband Neil, a lawyer who has occasional doubts about their marriage. His best friend is Mike, the man who saved him from drowning in the South Pacific. Mike sells exotic fish and is married to Tilda, the only character who has an underlying streak of meanness and deceit. The mix of personalities is perfect: a woman who loves unconditionally; her loyal but sometimes shaky spouse; his do-anything-for-you and screw-anything-that-moves friend; and a woman who serves expensive steaks she obtains with “five-finger discounts.” When disaster strikes one of them, the rest are devastated. Frank wraps the reader in a cocoon of finely spun images and rich similes that makes one want to return to the beginning of the book just to savor the language all over again. The “heavy sweetness of roses spilling over fences in Popsicle colors” is just one example of the vivid prose that appears on virtually every page. These images don’t distract from the story but enrich it with the help of four fully developed characters. The reader will hope that Neil realizes how lucky he is to have Rachel, that Mike can avoid being hurt too badly by Tilda, and that nothing can ever harm the friendship between Neil and Mike. There comes a moment when everything seems perfect with the foursome, when one of the characters wants that situation to last forever, to “make it stay.” But happily-ever-afters are for fairy tales, and nothing good lasts forever.

First-class fiction.