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

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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


A captivating allegory about evil, lies, and forgiveness.

Truth and deception clash in this tale of the Holocaust.

Udo Graf is proud that the Wolf has assigned him the task of expelling all 50,000 Jews from Salonika, Greece. In that city, Nico Krispis is an 11-year-old Jewish boy whose blue eyes and blond hair deceive, but whose words do not. Those who know him know he has never told a lie in his life—“Never be the one to tell lies, Nico,” his grandfather teaches him. “God is always watching.” Udo and Nico meet, and Udo decides to exploit the child’s innocence. At the train station where Jews are being jammed into cattle cars bound for Auschwitz, Udo gives Nico a yellow star to wear and persuades him to whisper among the crowd, “I heard it from a German officer. They are sending us to Poland. We will have new homes. And jobs.” The lad doesn’t know any better, so he helps persuade reluctant Jews to board the train to hell. “You were a good little liar,” Udo later tells Nico, and delights in the prospect of breaking the boy’s spirit, which is more fun and a greater challenge than killing him outright. When Nico realizes the horrific nature of what he's done, his truth-telling days are over. He becomes an inveterate liar about everything. Narrating the story is the Angel of Truth, whom according to a parable God had cast out of heaven and onto earth, where Truth shattered into billions of pieces, each to lodge in a human heart. (Obviously, many hearts have been missed.) Truth skillfully weaves together the characters, including Nico; his brother, Sebastian; Sebastian’s wife, Fannie; and the “heartless deceiver” Udo. Events extend for decades beyond World War II, until everyone’s lives finally collide in dramatic fashion. As Truth readily acknowledges, his account is loaded with twists and turns, some fortuitous and others not. Will Nico Krispis ever seek redemption? And will he find it? Author Albom’s passion shows through on every page in this well-crafted novel.

A captivating allegory about evil, lies, and forgiveness.

Pub Date: Nov. 14, 2023

ISBN: 9780062406651

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2023


A book begging to be read on the beach, with the sun warming the sand and salt in the air: pure escapism.

Three woman who join together to rent a large space along the beach in Los Angeles for their stores—a gift shop, a bakery, and a bookstore—become fast friends as they each experience the highs, and lows, of love.

Bree is a friendly but standoffish bookstore owner who keeps everyone she knows at arm’s length, from guys she meets in bars to her friends. Mikki is a settled-in-her-routines divorced mother of two, happily a mom, gift-shop owner, and co-parent with her ex-husband, Perry. And Ashley is a young, very-much-in-love bakery owner specializing in muffins who devotes herself to giving back to the community through a nonprofit that helps community members develop skills and find jobs. When the women meet drooling over a boardwalk storefront that none of them can afford on her own, a plan is hatched to divide the space in three, and a friendship—and business partnership—is born. An impromptu celebration on the beach at sunset with champagne becomes a weekly touchpoint to their lives as they learn more about each other and themselves. Their friendship blossoms as they help each other, offering support, hard truths, and loving backup. Author Mallery has created a delightful story of friendship between three women that also offers a variety of love stories as they fall in love, make mistakes, and figure out how to be the best—albeit still flawed—versions of themselves. The men are similarly flawed and human. While the story comes down clearly on the side of all-encompassing love, Mallery has struck a careful balance: There is just enough sex to be spicy, just enough swearing to be naughty, and just enough heartbreak to avoid being cloying.

A book begging to be read on the beach, with the sun warming the sand and salt in the air: pure escapism.

Pub Date: May 31, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-778-38608-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harlequin MIRA

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022

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