White rings some compelling changes in a convoluted tale that leads to Matt’s redemption.

EVERY BOAT TURNS SOUTH

Boy meets boat; boy meets girl; boy meets another girl; boy meets cocaine; boy loses boat—it’s complicated…

Matt Younger is the kind of guy trouble seeks out, owing mainly to his unusual and adventurous choices. After a 13-year hiatus from home, he’s come back in a confessional mode. He wants to tell his dying father Skip about his adventures during this time, but also about his complicity in the drowning of older brother Hale, a golden boy, star athlete and potential Olympian who had an untamed side of which their parents were ignorant. Skip is on his deathbed, and Matt takes over his mother’s duties as night nurse. The narrative alternates between Matt’s solicitude for his unforgiving (and semi-conscious) father and flashbacks to the period after he dropped out of high school in the wake of Hale’s death. Sailing Sam Wells’ 40-foot trimaran Stardust from Key West to St. Thomas, Matt gets stranded in the Turks and Caicos; he misses the Trades shift by one day, and the intractable winds are likely to keep him there for several months. About this time he encounters two characters who will irrevocably alter his life: cocaine dealer Jimmy Q and femme fatale Jenny. Jimmy Q persuades Matt to do an “easy” cocaine pickup, but Matt plans a complicated and dangerous hat trick to double-cross Jimmy Q, steal the cocaine and also steal Sam’s boat. To muddle things still further, Matt then meets and falls in love with Rosario, who has an unknown agenda of her own. Metaphorically caught between two women, he winds up getting literally caught by a corrupt comandante in the Dominican Republic.

White rings some compelling changes in a convoluted tale that leads to Matt’s redemption.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-57962-188-9

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Permanent Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 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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