On the suburban avenue of one of America’s 20 safest communities, four women hide secrets beneath work and family.
Pekkanen (Things You Won’t Say, 2015, etc.) deftly intertwines four stories into a tapestry depicting the frayed seams underlying small-town American domesticity. Newport Cove is bound together by Wine and Whine nights for the women, block parties for the children, and an electronic listserv riddled with passive-aggressive messages about dog poop, the propriety of political comments, and snarky advice. Worn down by her teenage daughter’s sulky tantrums, Gigi could always rely on her husband for support, but now his political ambitions threaten not only to expose her less-than-perfect past, but also to endanger her happy home. Barely surviving her recent divorce from Randall, Susan comforts herself with work and caring for her son, Cole. So why does she find herself obsessing over her ex-husband and his girlfriend, Daphne? Maybe it’s because Daphne was her friend first. Back at work after years of being a stay-at-home mom, Kellie delights in the attentions of her handsome, married co-worker even though she loves her own husband dearly. It’s just an innocent crush, right? Tessa, her husband, and children have recently and rather suddenly moved to Newport Cove. They seem friendly, if a little standoffish. That is, until Harry has a nearly hysterical fit at the Halloween parade, thinking another father is trying to abduct his son. A mistress of women's fiction, Pekkanen transforms clichéd suburban troubles—from adolescent drama to infidelity—into a compelling, suspenseful tale. Indeed, as Gigi, Susan, and Kellie struggle to upend their lives, it’s Tessa who harbors the darkest secret. And Pekkanen parcels out the clues slowly, ratcheting up the suspense, slowly exposing every parent’s worst fears. Of course, in the end, friendship binds them together with saccharine ties.
A Peyton Place with warm hearts.