ring, please.” Father Monahan turned to Jeffrey, whose gaze sent
everyone’s eyes to the back of the room. Whatever he was looking at
was not apparent, and all returned their attention to the couple.
groom stage-whispered angrily at his best man. He couldn’t be
bothered right now that his lifelong friend’s unrequited love
hadn’t shown. For god’s sake, it was his wedding. If Jeffrey
ruined it, their friendship was in question. It had been faltering
ever more as this obsession had grown.
Laila slowly opened
the heavy church door, hoping for a quiet entrance. She was late,
hadn’t been expecting to come at all. Susanna had begged her to
come. Her little sister’s wedding was a must, but she understood
that HE would be there. They agreed that no one wanted the commotion
that would ensue from her presence. Yet she desperately wished to see
her baby girl she helped raise marry the man of her dreams. The door
squeak echoed around the three-stories’ tall ceiling. Acoustics
were fantastic in here—as a singer, she was impressed. Then all
eyes turned again to the back of the room.
Halfway up, Laila’s
ex-husband Henri sat with two of their children, both of them excited
about baby sister as flower girl. Upon seeing Laila in the doorway,
with sunlight haloing her auburn hair, he stood up, snapped his
fingers for the kids to follow, and headed to the door. As he walked
down the aisle, he heard a gasp from the front, but didn’t turn to
find out from who. In his peripheral vision, he noted a tall man in
black on the left get up and head in the same direction. He did not
want to know who this guy was. Henri reached back for his children.
The sound of little feet running behind him assured him that all his
kids were coming.
Lily loves Charlie more than any other human, for he rescued her when other potential adopters frowned at her limp. She’d been abused by her previous owner and her broken leg healed without veterinarian intervention. Now he’s being bullied and Lily must figure out a way to help him amid the chaos of Dad’s drinking, Mom’s sadness, his sister’s possible suspect boyfriend, and his big brother’s anger. The unique perspective of a cat gives readers a view from inside the family, but with a pure, some might say naive, but definitely less than jaded, outlook. Lily can be as surprised as a person by such things as Charlie’s choice of “mate” being another boy. Ward’s representation of a gender-fluid, gay teenager comes across as natural and inclusive, even as she shows the challenges he must face, especially from his own family. His mother and sister’s acceptance counter his father’s confusion and his brother’s resistance. Of course there’s a romantic interest for mom, who’s separated from dad and planning divorce. However, he immediately touches her intimately and insinuates himself into family issues, coming across as a bit creepy rather than romantic—too much too soon. This is the only part of the story that doesn’t flow organically, a small distraction. This story presents multiple serious subjects that are handled with compassion: alcoholism, addiction, chronic pain, divorce, and gender expectations. Ward takes her family down a path of resolution surprising, yet realistic. Readers who love main characters off the beaten path will appreciate this story; animal lovers will be vindicated.
As Mallie’s marriage crumbles, she searches for her identity through religion. She falls in love with an unscrupulous priest counseling her, but bounces back and continues her journey of self-discovery. Her friend Jenny introduces her to spiritual retreats and workshops. The story nearly becomes a Christian self-help book multiple times, as it spends much time expounding upon the wisdom of the retreats and workshops. Nevertheless, it’s an excellent portrayal of a woman set loose from what she considered a solid foundation as a wife and mother in the late 70s. Having come unmoored, she must find a way to anchor herself without a partner to lean on and no job skills. The ending is credible, hopeful, and maybe a bit feminist. Gorman does a great job of showing Mallie’s emotions ricocheting around in her head, and how hard she tries to connect with the world around her. Though a bit insular, based on the Christian themes, this book tells a story of women who buy into the Mrs. degree, and how one breaks free after a crash and burn, definitely a worthwhile read. I was fortunate to receive this e-book from She Writes Press through NetGalley.
Alice wakes from a daydream of the beach to a painful head in an unfamiliar gym, with a colleague peering down at her. She fell off her bike in spin class and misplaced the last decade in her brain. Current events are not so current, and Alice learns some astonishing facts about the world and popular culture. Over the following week, she discovers some harsh truths about that decade from family, friends, and neighbors. As she slowly gains insight into her own life and troubled relations with her loved ones, the soul searching begins. When the memories hit all at once, Alice is stunned and reasserts herself as she merges her 29-year-old self with her 39-year old self.
Now this is how you open a novel! Moriarty begins the story with Alice floating in a pool, listening to a man playing Marco Polo with kids, knowing that the someone next to her with toenails painted different colors like her own is a person she loves. As the dreamlike sequence morphs into a painfully realistic nightmare of Alice’s confusion at finding herself in a gym, where she would never expect to be, the reader is pulled into the confusion and learns the truths as Alice learns them. Brilliant! Along with the facts presented to the memory-challenged Alice, secrets are unveiled, strengthening relationships and urging everyone forward toward positive opportunities.
Readers who wish to be invested deeply in the main character’s life will love this book. If you are fond of secrets, humorous references to current (and not so current) events, and gut-wrenching situations, this book is for you. Moriarty will have you laughing and crying out loud!