Appealing story, with a fine ear for dialogue and a tender wit: an auspicious debut for Los Angeles–based fashion...

FOR MATRIMONIAL PURPOSES

My big fat Bombay wedding.

Anju’s parents expect her to have a traditional arranged marriage, like her just-wed younger sister, but Anju has other ideas. Besides, she’s already (at 28) past the most desirable age, and the astrologer her nervous mother consults sees no bridegroom soon. Kindly relatives counsel patience. An Internet search of eligible Indian bachelors turns up a few prospects, but none interesting to Anju, so she persuades her doting parents to let her try her luck in America, under the watchful eyes of an amiable uncle in New Jersey and his scolding wife. Watching TV and landing a job in New York fashion merchandising immerse her in Western culture, but in matters of the heart, she’s deeply conservative. Dating an all-American guy is a tricky business, she finds, especially when he refuses to sneak away from the nosy relatives she spots at the restaurant, who are sure to tell all to her faraway family. What to do? Traditional Indian men will regard her as too independent and experienced (though she remains a virgin), but she can’t revert to the innocent girl she was in Bombay. A trip home for her cousin’s wedding only confirms this fear—and her mother’s unsubtle efforts to introduce her to as many men as possible drive her nutty. She talks her parents into letting her return to New York, explaining that many Indian stockbrokers and accountants live there, too. But her ceaseless efforts to find a suitable mate often border on the absurd, as in this communication from a cyberchap: I am blameless innocent divorced man. I before have married to crazy-demented white woman, only for purposes of green card. Am seeking wife number two. I am honest, good person. Please be good and e-mail me by return.

Appealing story, with a fine ear for dialogue and a tender wit: an auspicious debut for Los Angeles–based fashion correspondent Daswani.

Pub Date: July 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-399-15070-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2003

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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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