A compelling and enjoyable ride with five women who supposedly have it all.

ALL THE RIGHT MISTAKES

A novel focuses on the choices and challenges of five 40-year-old women who formed friendships as motivated Dartmouth undergraduates.

The book’s main characters are affluent, highly intelligent, married women with children. Their stories are narrated in alternating chapters with the exception of Heather Hall, the “supernova” of the group and a pivot for the other four. Heather is the COO of a hot, new tech company. Wealthy and generous, she always hosts their annual girls’ weekends. As the story opens, she is preoccupied with her book launch, so she is hosting in absentia this year. Self-involved and oblivious to her friends’ problems, Heather relentlessly sends texts, tweets, and emails exuding manic positivity. The remaining four are Carmen Jones, Martha Adams West, Elizabeth Smith, and Sara Beck. Carmen was a brilliant student whose career plans were torpedoed by an unplanned pregnancy and resultant marriage. Her dreams for more children never materialized, and her life is unfulfilling. Elizabeth, an exacting “big firm attorney” with a 3-year-old son and a loving but distracted stay-at-home husband, desperately wants a second child. With four young kids and a full-time position as a lawyer, Sara is exhausted by the demands of her job and angry that she is responsible for all of the household management. Martha, a physician, is at home after having two children and getting pregnant with a third. Married to a successful doctor named Robert, she is conflicted about returning to work after her baby is born. As trying as their situations are at the start, the friends are in store for a lot more pain. Unfortunate, terrible, and tragic incidents occur, and all the women must reevaluate their situations and decisions.

Heather’s blockbuster book serves as a catalyst for the four when they realize that each represents one of the titular Four BIG Mistakes of Women Who Will Never Lead or Win. Mistake No. 1: Opting Out (Carmen); Mistake No. 2: Ramping Off (Martha); Mistake No. 3: Half-Assing It (Sara); and Mistake No. 4: Ignoring the Fertility Cliff (Elizabeth). The four are blindsided by Heather’s simplistic and cruel assessment of their lives. But they are at critical junctures, and some of Heather’s criticisms hit close to home. The complexities of the issues are often subsumed by Jamison’s prosaic analyses. For example, during a school conference for one of her sons, Martha is stung by the dean’s dismissal of her desire to return to practicing medicine. Deflated, Martha muses: “We truly can’t win. And shame is the weapon of choice. The dean would never have told Robert not to go to work.” For Sara, who must work full time as an attorney and indispensable parent, “the Fight was always about the same thing—who was doing more, especially more of the shit work.” Although the author does not contribute anything new to the dilemma of women’s roles and work-life balance, the format is engrossing and the stories unfold at a satisfying pace. The husbands are mainly contrivances who serve to highlight the intriguing issues of the five women. The resolutions and reconciliations are effectively explored and have an undercurrent of religious ardency. Heather eventually acknowledges that her four friends “are using their resilience, optimism, courage, and persistence to create lives that are perfect for them.”

A compelling and enjoyable ride with five women who supposedly have it all.

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-63152-709-8

Page Count: 328

Publisher: She Writes Press

Review Posted Online: May 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

A warm and winning "When Harry Met Sally…" update that hits all the perfect notes.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 32

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

PEOPLE WE MEET ON VACATION

A travel writer has one last shot at reconnecting with the best friend she just might be in love with.

Poppy and Alex couldn't be more different. She loves wearing bright colors while he prefers khakis and a T-shirt. She likes just about everything while he’s a bit more discerning. And yet, their opposites-attract friendship works because they love each other…in a totally platonic way. Probably. Even though they have their own separate lives (Poppy lives in New York City and is a travel writer with a popular Instagram account; Alex is a high school teacher in their tiny Ohio hometown), they still manage to get together each summer for one fabulous vacation. They grow closer every year, but Poppy doesn’t let herself linger on her feelings for Alex—she doesn’t want to ruin their friendship or the way she can be fully herself with him. They continue to date other people, even bringing their serious partners on their summer vacations…but then, after a falling-out, they stop speaking. When Poppy finds herself facing a serious bout of ennui, unhappy with her glamorous job and the life she’s been dreaming of forever, she thinks back to the last time she was truly happy: her last vacation with Alex. And so, though they haven’t spoken in two years, she asks him to take another vacation with her. She’s determined to bridge the gap that’s formed between them and become best friends again, but to do that, she’ll have to be honest with Alex—and herself—about her true feelings. In chapters that jump around in time, Henry shows readers the progression (and dissolution) of Poppy and Alex’s friendship. Their slow-burn love story hits on beloved romance tropes (such as there unexpectedly being only one bed on the reconciliation trip Poppy plans) while still feeling entirely fresh. Henry’s biggest strength is in the sparkling, often laugh-out-loud-funny dialogue, particularly the banter-filled conversations between Poppy and Alex. But there’s depth to the story, too—Poppy’s feeling of dissatisfaction with a life that should be making her happy as well as her unresolved feelings toward the difficult parts of her childhood make her a sympathetic and relatable character. The end result is a story that pays homage to classic romantic comedies while having a point of view all its own.

A warm and winning "When Harry Met Sally…" update that hits all the perfect notes.

Pub Date: May 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0675-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

Light on suspense but still a solid page-turner.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 61

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

THE LAST THING HE TOLD ME

When a devoted husband and father disappears, his wife and daughter set out to find him.

Hannah Hall is deeply in love with her husband of one year, Owen Michaels. She’s also determined to win over his 16-year-old daughter, Bailey, who has made it very clear that she’s not thrilled with her new stepmother. Despite the drama, the family is mostly a happy one. They live in a lovely houseboat in Sausalito; Hannah is a woodturner whose handmade furniture brings in high-dollar clientele; and Owen works for The Shop, a successful tech firm. Their lives are shattered, however, when Hannah receives a note saying “Protect her” and can’t reach Owen by phone. Then there’s the bag full of cash Bailey finds in her school locker and the shocking news that The Shop’s CEO has been taken into custody. Hannah learns that the FBI has been investigating the firm for about a year regarding some hot new software they took to market before it was fully functional, falsifying their financial statements. Hannah refuses to believe her husband is involved in the fraud, and a U.S. marshal assigned to the case claims Owen isn’t a suspect. Hannah doesn’t know whom to trust, though, and she and Bailey resolve to root out the clues that might lead to Owen. They must also learn to trust one another. Hannah’s narrative alternates past and present, detailing her early days with Owen alongside her current hunt for him, and author Dave throws in a touch of danger and a few surprises. But what really drives the story is the evolving nature of Hannah and Bailey’s relationship, which is by turns poignant and frustrating but always realistic.

Light on suspense but still a solid page-turner.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7134-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

more