A captivating and complicated coming-of-age tale for fans of surprising heroines.

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SHELBY'S WAY . . . MAYBE

LISTEN TO YOUR HEART AND FIND YOUR WAY

A novel follows a young mother who is forced to grow up when her husband abruptly abandons her.

Young, beautiful, and sheltered Shelby Carpenter is married to a successful Hollywood stuntman. The book opens as Shelby and her husband, Boyd, mingle with other Tinseltown hotshots at a lavish party in Los Angeles. An attractive and assertive divorcée offers to take Boyd on a tour of the grounds, whereupon he excuses himself from the company of his wife, never to be seen again. Shelby cannot believe that she has been left so suddenly and brazenly by her husband of more than half a decade, but after three long days with no word from Boyd, she begins to accept the truth. She is soon informed by mutual acquaintances that Boyd went to Kenya with his new girlfriend, and before she knows it, she has received divorce papers from his attorney. With no job and very little life experience, Shelby is left to fend for herself and her 8-year-old daughter, Pamela, on her own. Motivated by the responsibility she feels for her daughter, Shelby finds positions as a cocktail waitress and an administrative assistant in a corporate office. As she learns to stand on her own, Shelby meets three men who appeal to different aspects of her personality. Each of the three provides Shelby with emotional support during her most turbulent times as well as varying levels of distraction and sexual fulfillment. Formerly writing under the name MK Landstein, Mitchell (Wasted…Maybe, 2013, etc.) delivers a complex heroine. As the appealing story progresses, Shelby’s feelings for each of the three suitors evolve, along with her sentiments about herself. Throughout the novel, the author provides insightful and compassionate details about the difficulties of single motherhood (“All along she knew she would not allow anything to interfere with Pamela’s world, her self-image and security. Shelby knew she would have to climb out of this hole step by step”). Mitchell also shows how Shelby’s lovely face and friendly demeanor can often function as more of a curse than a blessing. There are many intricate subplots that weave their ways throughout the larger story, rounding out the richness of the narrative. 

A captivating and complicated coming-of-age tale for fans of surprising heroines. 

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4575-4413-2

Page Count: 214

Publisher: Dog Ear

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2016

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A touching family drama that effectively explores the negative impact of stress on fragile relationships.

A WEEK AT THE SHORE

A middle-aged woman returns to her childhood home to care for her ailing father, confronting many painful secrets from her past.

When Mallory Aldiss gets a call from a long-ago boyfriend telling her that her elderly father has been gallivanting around town with a gun in his hand, Mallory decides it’s time to return to the small Rhode Island town that she’s been avoiding for more than a decade. Mallory’s precocious 13-year-old daughter, Joy, is thrilled that she'll get to meet her grandfather at long last, and an aunt, too, and she'll finally see the place where her mother grew up. When they arrive in Bay Bluff, it’s barely a few hours before Mallory bumps into her old flame, Jack, the only man she’s ever really loved. Gone is the rebellious young person she remembers, and in his place stands a compassionate, accomplished adult. As they try to reconnect, Mallory realizes that the same obstacle that pushed them apart decades earlier is still standing in their way: Jack blames Mallory’s father for his mother’s death. No one knows exactly how Jack’s mother died, but Jack thinks a love affair between her and Mallory’s father had something to do with it. As Jack and Mallory chase down answers, Mallory also tries to repair her rocky relationships with her two sisters and determine why her father has always been so hard on her. Told entirely from Mallory’s perspective, the novel has a haunting, nostalgic quality. Despite the complex and overlapping layers to the history of Bay Bluff and its inhabitants, the book at times trudges too slowly through Mallory’s meanderings down Memory Lane. Even so, Delinsky sometimes manages to pick up the pace, and in those moments the beauty and nuance of this complicated family tale shine through. Readers who don’t mind skimming past details that do little to advance the plot may find that the juicier nuggets and realistically rendered human connections are worth the effort.

A touching family drama that effectively explores the negative impact of stress on fragile relationships.

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-11951-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

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THE GIVER OF STARS

Women become horseback librarians in 1930s Kentucky and face challenges from the landscape, the weather, and the men around them.

Alice thought marrying attractive American Bennett Van Cleve would be her ticket out of her stifling life in England. But when she and Bennett settle in Baileyville, Kentucky, she realizes that her life consists of nothing more than staying in their giant house all day and getting yelled at by his unpleasant father, who owns a coal mine. She’s just about to resign herself to a life of boredom when an opportunity presents itself in the form of a traveling horseback library—an initiative from Eleanor Roosevelt meant to counteract the devastating effects of the Depression by focusing on literacy and learning. Much to the dismay of her husband and father-in-law, Alice signs up and soon learns the ropes from the library’s leader, Margery. Margery doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her, rejects marriage, and would rather be on horseback than in a kitchen. And even though all this makes Margery a town pariah, Alice quickly grows to like her. Along with several other women (including one black woman, Sophia, whose employment causes controversy in a town that doesn’t believe black and white people should be allowed to use the same library), Margery and Alice supply magazines, Bible stories, and copies of books like Little Women to the largely poor residents who live in remote areas. Alice spends long days in terrible weather on horseback, but she finally feels happy in her new life in Kentucky, even as her marriage to Bennett is failing. But her powerful father-in-law doesn’t care for Alice’s job or Margery’s lifestyle, and he’ll stop at nothing to shut their library down. Basing her novel on the true story of the Pack Horse Library Project established by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s, Moyes (Still Me, 2018, etc.) brings an often forgotten slice of history to life. She writes about Kentucky with lush descriptions of the landscape and tender respect for the townspeople, most of whom are poor, uneducated, and grateful for the chance to learn. Although Alice and Margery both have their own romances, the true power of the story is in the bonds between the women of the library. They may have different backgrounds, but their commitment to helping the people of Baileyville brings them together.

A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-56248-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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