The prodigal daughter returns after 20 years, but the happy Reinhardts aren’t sure what to do with her gloomy presence in this sly fiction about families.
Paige is a bit ambivalent about the big news—Sloane is coming to Manhattan for a visit. She hasn’t had contact with her older sister in two decades, since Sloane ran away from a ritzy rehab at 16. Mother Vanessa is guardedly optimistic that they may be a family again, while father Frank is treating the event as he does most: in a state of genial oblivion. Paige’s husband, Dave, has weightier concerns—his law firm has suspended him for a few weeks, and they (or he) won’t say why. For a striving workaholic, this is a death sentence, but Paige’s response is heavy on suspicion and light on sympathy. (How embarrassing for her, considering that she’s a therapist.) When sullen Sloane arrives, she has little interest in reconnecting with her parents, but Paige she likes. And Paige is shocked to meet Sloane’s traveling companion, fiance Giovanni, who is charming and bright, and their little dog, Bandito, who accompanies them as they visit chic eateries for Sloane’s travel blog. The myth of Sloane encompassed so much catastrophe that Paige is a bit surprised to befriend a fairly normal, if occasionally moody, real person. Begging out of their summer outings, Dave becomes increasingly distant, and Paige is convinced he’s involved with some illegal shenanigans. Paige hires Giovanni’s best friend, Percy (she calls him the Adonis), to use his skills as private investigator to ferret out the truth—though she won’t be happy when she gets it. Thankfully, she now has her big sister’s shoulder to cry on.
New York attorney Heller’s second novel (The Love Wars, 2013) is a triumph of witty dialogue and characters as true to life as your best friends.