A family drama that remains warm and witty, despite its weighty subject matter.

Ignoring Gravity

From the Rose Haldane, Identity Detective series , Vol. 1

A revelation opens old wounds and spurs new questions for a fiercely independent reporter in Danby’s debut novel.

While paging through a diary belonging to her recently decreased mother, London Herald journalist Rose Haldane learns she was adopted as a child. “I spent my whole childhood wanting Mum to be pleased with me, but she never was,” Rose tells her grandmother. “Every time she looked at me she must have seen nothing of herself to love.” Using the investigative skills she honed as a reporter, Rose sets out to find her biological parents, declaring: “Until I do, I don’t know where I belong.” The complications that ensue are predictable. To Rose’s disappointment, record-keeping practices and privacy standards were very different when she was born in 1968, slowing her search. Yet for others in Rose’s life, the process moves much too quickly. The discovery of the adoption forces Rose’s sister, Lily, to confront fears of infertility. And Rose’s adoptive father, John, is hesitant to delve into the past—a reluctance Rose can appreciate if not quite accept. Although she wants the truth, she also has misgivings. What if her biological parents are criminals or dead? What if she is the product of rape? And perhaps most importantly: if she isn’t Rose Haldane, who is she? Danby does an able job of tackling those queries and more with honesty and empathy. Although the story centers on Rose, several chapters are written from the perspective of Lily, whose own arc reveals itself slowly throughout the book and, ultimately, provides a surprise ending. Unfortunately, the rest of Danby’s cast is thinly realized. Rose’s love interest, Nick, seems to function only as a plot device. And while intriguing in broad strokes, Danby shies away from dipping too deeply into what could have been a fascinating subplot—the motivations of Rose’s adoptive and biological mothers. That’s a shame because all the other elements necessary for a family potboiler are here.

A family drama that remains warm and witty, despite its weighty subject matter. 

Pub Date: Nov. 21, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-9931134-1-3

Page Count: 442

Publisher: Beulah Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 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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