Looking for the perfect beach read this summer? Well look no further. This latest offering from Jennifer Weiner is just the thing for lounging with your toes in the sand. Actually, that’s exactly where I started it and finished it two days later. It was that good!
Bethie and Jo, Jo and Bethie. Sisters. Such a complicated word full of implications. Their lives have not been easy, and their relationship has not been ideal. But they’ve always been there for each other through a multitude of tragedies and dramas.
Over the course of their lifetimes, their paths crisscross back and forth between what they dreamed for themselves and what reality gives them. Each sister finds herself at odds with what she’d imagined for her life. There are struggles with sexuality, childhood traumas, family deaths, difficult and overbearing parents, lost loves, and so much more.
This book is so much. It’s a reflection on changing times as we begin in 1950’s era Detroit and end in the year 2016. Society changes, both a lot and not so very much at the same time. It’s a tale of family, whatever that may be. I found myself pulled in from the very first page. When the journey came to an end, I was at a loss. Definitely five stars!
This series just keeps going strong! Built of standalone books centered around a family of brothers and a town known for wedding weekends, I thought I’d never see the day when Susan Mallery would write the adventures of brooding brother Ronan. But she did. And from the mudslide to the hidden room to Ronan’s sensitive and generous heart, she wrote a winner. There is no better match for Ronan than Natalie… and I don’t know how Mallery imagined such a perfect foil/love interest for Ronan, but she did.
And though the romance was central to the story, there were a few other fun threads happening at the same time, including friendships, family reconciliations, professional successes, and of course the requisite Happily Inc weddings. A fun and worthwhile read.
Three lovely people grow up -separately- without loving parents, and though they don’t share the same mothers, they do share the same paternal grandfather. This guy might be in the background of the story character-development-wise, but he’s the hub that brings his three grandchildren together. Well, with a little help from a friend.
Susan Mallery wrote a terrific story about a non-traditional family. Malcolm was raised from boyhood by his grandfather. Keira was brought into the family home much later – and at the transitional age of 12 has a hard time feeling like she belongs. Delaney, a woman who works in the same building as Malcolm, helps bridge the brother-sister gap. Meanwhile, a third sibling is found and brought “home.” Callie isn’t sure this new world is for her, but feels a sense of responsibility for Keira.
I’ve read a lot of half-siblings-brought-together stories, but none quite like this. Mallery wrote fresh characters with realistic flaws and shortcomings, characters you can be annoyed with and cry with and laugh with… and sympathize with. And Mallery keeps up the realism all the way to the end, when everyone really has found home, even if it’s not what you’d expect. Terrific story about family, loyalty, and love.
Sisters Lauren and Jenna have been thick as thieves since their childhood when their mother was always painting and traveling — and their dad was more pal than caregiver.
Decades later, Jenna and Lauren still have each other’s backs as they (and next generation Mack) spend a summer together on Martha’s Vineyard — while mom Nancy tries to sell the childhood home.
I loved the secrets in this book! They weren’t too angsty or twisty… they were barely predictable… just enough to make the book easy and believable. And when they unraveled, I saw exactly why they were such long-held secrets. And I could understand why Mack wanted the truth from everyone from there on out!
Though I enjoyed all the characters – and Morgan developed them all well – I think Mack was a brilliant addition to the cast. As a teenager in a cast largely of adults, she often was by herself or feeling on the periphery of the action. But that was actually a stroke of genius – Mack was the observer of all that was happening, and clued me (the reader) in to the truth.
Besides Mack, I adored Lauren’s boat-builder ex boyfriend. He handled teenager drama like a champ, was the perfect gentleman helping Nancy in her time of need, and was honest as they come.
Way to go, Sarah Morgan. How to Keep a Secret is one of my 2018 favorites!
Southern charm has a bit of a different meaning in Molly Harper’s Southern Eclectic series. I loved Sweet Tea and Sympathy for the big hug that city-girl-Margot’s extended family gave her when she arrived at their doorstep looking for a shoulder… and a job. In Ain’t She a Peach, Harper fleshes out the character of Margot’s goth cousin Frankie, a born and bred southern woman of many talents (including excellent makeup skills).
I really enjoyed getting to know Frankie. She is more than just silly clothes and rainbow hair and slitty eyes at the teenage troublemakers. Frankie is a pop-tart-lovin, jail-sleepin, cancer-survivin, Aunt-Tootie-toleratin lovable 30-something with a stubborn streak and a coroner’s license. With a nudge from Margot and company, Frankie learns how to speak up for herself, catch a crook, and finally let her guard down when it comes to love.
This book is funny, heartwarming, and filled with puppies. And okay yes, I also really liked that Sheriff Eric was part of the happily ever after. ❤
If you’re a woman over 40 — either working or going back to work after taking time off to raise children — you’ve got to read this. Actually, if you’re any woman you’ve got to read this. You’ll either identify with it because you’re just like Kate, or you’ll identify with Alice or Candy or Sally. If you’re a husband you should read it for its eye-opening characteristics. If you’re a single guy with a job, well, it might enlighten you too, man.
I’m just going to admit it. This is exactly what’s it’s like to be a 40ish woman going back to work after a decade off. Luckily I have a husband and colleagues who are a little more forgiving, but other than that, How Hard Can It Be is the cold unvarnished truth about raising teenagers, the pressures and interruptions of managing a home and extended family problems, the difficulty finding time to exercise, and the change of life that hits everyone with XX chromosomes.
It’s funny, authentic, heartbreaking. I furrowed my brow wondering how Kate could miss so many red flags with her kids, but in her defense, she had a LOT going on., And throughout every chapter I thought It is so nice to know I’m not the only one in this particular boat!
P.S. This book reminded me of a couple of women in real life who are offering an online course for women wishing to re-enter the workforce after opting out to care for family. You can find details at Prepare To Launch U.
Book two in a series, The Sugarhouse Blues continues the sister drama among Des, Cara and Allie, while filling in the family tree with their Aunt Barney and third generation Nikki.
Reading this is like watching a home renovation show on HGTV, the Real Housewives of Small Town America, and a Hallmark movie all rolled into one. You’ve got your historical theater renovation, the dwindling inheritance, a spitfire auntie, the cute-no-nonsense-friendly-yet-alpha sheriff, a boyfriend or three, and the sisters who love each other – most of the time – and have very little patience for each other’s antics. I love it all.
Read book one first so you’re not lost, then get a hold of this one, pronto. And then you can wait with me – watching Housewives and eating popcorn – until Ms. Stewart releases book three.