A navel-gazing but forthright and entertaining spiritual novel.

Peacemaking

A veteran cop questions Jesus Christ about the darkness and human suffering he’s seen during his 30 years on the job in LoRusso’s (The World Class Rainmaker, 2012, etc.) novel.

Deputy chief of police Scotty Painter suddenly finds himself in a world of near-perfect serenity, featuring clean air, lush fields, and endless beaches, where he’s finally able to relax the constant vigilance that comes with being a cop. Jesus Christ—here, a wry, loving, reassuring agent of a merciful God—joins him as he struggles with the horrors he’s witnessed in his long career in law enforcement, as well as the fact that he had to take lives in the line of duty. Scotty questions whether he’s done enough with his life; he’s a man who feels his failures more deeply than his successes, fearing that his greatest achievements—such as stopping an abusive husband, training and supporting his fellow officers, and establishing a special counseling program—weren’t enough. LoRusso wrote extensively about officer-involved shootings in his 2013 book When Cops Kill, and in his first work of fiction, he couples that real-world knowledge with a spiritual focus. He presents Scotty as an unimpeachable officer who still wrestles morally with using lethal force. The book’s conversation-with-God approach feels pat. However, the author has a knack for action scenes, keeping them exciting but never exploitative; even in flashbacks, the danger feels very real. Scotty experiences bouts of sudden sleep and pain throughout the narrative, which provides a clue to why he has an audience with Jesus and offers a nice metaphor for life itself. There are some underused story elements, such as the death of Scotty’s father when he was a child, the recent loss of his wife, and his relationship with their daughter, Celina, which take a back seat to tales of his work as a cop.

A navel-gazing but forthright and entertaining spiritual novel.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-61005-688-5

Page Count: 140

Publisher: BookLogix

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2015

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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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