THE REAL MOTHER by Judith Michael


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Troubled family, endless complications.

Sara Elliot was always the perfect one: first-born, straight-A student, bound for medical school, etc. But she gave up her dream three years ago, at 24, when a stroke left her mother infirm and speechless and Sara devoted her life to caring for her adolescent sisters, Carrie and Abby, and ten-year-old brother Doug, meanwhile sticking with her own thankless job of finding luxury housing for loudmouthed rich people who dress badly and condescend to her. Yet, selfless to a fault, Sara never complains, says anything rude or funny, or even asks the burning question that every put-upon soap-opera heroine must ask: When will it be my turn? Maybe never. Mack, her manic, self-absorbed, younger brother is back in town. Perhaps Sara will be forced to confront the flaws in his volatile character—once she gets a nutritious dinner on the table, coaxes her sibs to eat their vegetables and do their homework, and offers moral guidance, fresh bread, and words of wisdom to all. Yet a romantic heart still beats faintly in the steel bosom of this annoying female robot: Reuben, a handsome, rich, also perfect client, seems to be single. But, wait! Is that a vengeful, money-hungry wife in his closet, claiming that Reuben’s bestial sexual demands forced her to have abortions? Sara would cry, if she weren’t a robot. The march of the subplots begins (cue the mighty Wurlitzer). Mack throws a tantrum in the nursing home where his addled mother languishes and explains why he’s so messed up before his dreams of glory make him easy prey for a cigar-chomping, casino-building monster, another of Sara’s clients. Reuben’s wife decides to accept a few zillion dollars, thus freeing Reuben to buy a cool, minimalist loft in New York. But it’s not a real home, Sara frets . . . . Happy ending, rife with platitudes, and it’s a wrap.

Podgy prose, bland characters, dated story from this ever-popular husband-and-wife team (A Certain Smile, 1999, etc.).

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2005
ISBN: 0-06-059929-4
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 2005


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