Alternating currents of ironic humor and passionate anger empower this coming-of-age novel set in the Midwest of the 1960's and 70's—a captivating first novel by a fiction writer for The New Yorker and other magazines. ``I couldn't even begin to say who my first actual boyfriend was, there were so many,'' Misty states casually at the outset of this story of her romantic life, which commences with an obsession with her ne'er-do-well dad, by whom she would be regularly abandoned, and which later sputters out in the discovery that her live-in lover has propositioned every female friend she's ever had. Part of Misty's romantic problems, the story goes, are due to her mom, an alcoholic schoolteacher who loathed motherhood; part to a general fear of life instilled in her by her eccentric grandfather; part to the acid-drenched, nihilistic early 70's of Misty's adolescence; and part to Misty's own proclivity for choosing men based on the coolness quotient of their automobiles. As Misty's childhood anxiety develops into adolescent rebellion and then festers into an extreme case of post-high-school apathy, she struggles to define herself through her ludicrously inappropriate love affairs—a series of mirrors so warped that the self-images they offer serve only to confuse her more. Fortunately, Misty hits bottom when she's only 25: young enough to take a deep breath, shift responsibility for her future onto her own frail shoulders, and begin the difficult process of bouncing back to true adulthood. Frank, wistful, and occasionally very funny.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1991

ISBN: 0-670-83225-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1991

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Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.


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.


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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