Book review: ‘Other Words For Love’ by Lorraine Zago Rosenthal

Ariadne “Ari” Mitchell is used to playing second fiddle to her gorgeous, outgoing best friend, Summer, and her older sister Evelyn, whose teen pregnancy solidified their parents’ fears for their teenage daughters. Though she’s now married with a gorgeous husband and son, her distaste for the world still clouds everything. Especially their family.

It’s 1985 in New York City, and Ari is tired of lingering in the background. When an unexpected inheritance allows the Mitchells to send Ari to a private school in the city, she’s excited and nervous about the change — especially as she’ll now be closer to Summer. It’s at her new school that she meets Leigh, an artistic student with a great asset: her older cousins, young men with dreams and ambition still cradled beneath their father’s thumb. Cousins who become impossible for Ari to ignore.

As she forms new bonds and begins to examine what binds her to her family (and she to them), Ari falls in love and grapples with the knowledge that so many things — real, beautiful — will end. But then again, maybe that just places her at the beginning.

Lorraine Zago Rosenthal’s Other Words For Love is one of those rare novels that had my heart threatening to fall right out of my chest; the emotions, characters and situations felt so real and stomachache-inducingly familiar. Books about first love usually resonate with me far more than any other subject — it’s something close to my own heart, I guess. And if I had big expectations about this one after reading so many glowing reviews, they were all met. And then some.

Ari is the novel’s backbone — our narrator; our heroine. Told in her matter-of-fact and almost deadpan style, we get to know the Mitchell and Cagney families intimately in a very short time. At 17, Ari finds herself drawn to Patrick, her older sister’s firefighter husband — and who wouldn’t? Patrick is everything Ari longs for: handsome; dependable; family-oriented; strong. And, more than anything, he takes an interest in her . . . too much, Evelyn gripes. Too much of an interest in her.

I spent most of the novel wanting to pop Evelyn in the face, but it was hard to feel angry with her for too long. Clearly grappling with postpartum depression, Ari’s sister is a woman struggling to find a place within her own family . . . and the world. The fact that Ari was continuously swallowed up in Evelyn’s drama was tough to take, but I could see why everyone was concerned. And I appreciated Ari’s compassion — even when Evelyn was behaving like a monster.

Oh, this book . . . it’s hard to even pinpoint why I adored it so much. The love story that transpires had me breathless, remembering, and it’s difficult to not feel tossed right back into the maelstrom of your own first love while dissolving into Other Words For Love. Rosenthal does an incredible job making us love and care for these people — and Ari felt like a friend I could head to Brooklyn and visit. The glittering world of Leigh, Blake and Delsin — Ari’s new friends in the city — was sparkling, yes, but it wasn’t their wealth that made them so appealing to Ari. It was a sense of belonging and comrarderie — and of love — that made their presence like a drug to her.

In the story, Summer accuses Ari of not really being in love — of simply thinking she is — because she’s in a state of limerence, when feelings of romantic love are so intense that your affection becomes obsession. But who doesn’t look back on their first great love and remember those sleepless nights spent replaying every word and look exchanged, and the very first time you kissed? Of the way you felt when you realized your feelings were returned — when you wanted to wake up and shout “I’m in love!” while dancing in traffic on the roof of your car?

If you have a desire to replay that time in your life — or simply read a sweet, understated but beautiful novel — don’t miss out on Other Words For Love. Though labeled as young adult literature, our protagonist is anything but a “typical” teen — and this is anything but a one-note love story.

5 out of 5!

ISBN: 038573901X ♥ GoodreadsLibraryThingAmazonAuthor Website
Review copy provided by Amazon Vine in exchange for my honest review


Book review: ‘How To Love An American Man’ by Kristine Gasbarre

How To Love An American Man is a coming-of-age and coming-to-love memoir by Kristine Gasbarre, an American writer, daughter, granddaughter and woman on a quest for love — like so many of us. The story opens with her arrival from Italy to be at her grandfather’s deathbed, an event that emotionally decimates her. Coupled with a recent breakup from her British beau, Krissy comes to Pennsylvania seeking solace and comfort. Needing to be with family.

Her grandfather’s death opens a door for Krissy to become closer to her grandmother, Gloria, a feisty woman with sage advice on life, love and marriage. Having spent 60 years with her husband, Glo has plenty of insight for her eldest granddaughter . . . but Krissy has to be open to hearing it.

Kristine Gasbarre’s How To Love An American Man is a book that emotionally socked me in the stomach in a way that few books ever have. Like Aidan Donnelley Rowley’s Life After Yes, a novel that changed me, Gasbarre’s true look at her grandparents’ marriage — and what may have gone awry in her own love life — was emotionally wrenching and unique.

In a word, I found this book refreshing. It’s not about a dysfunctional family, for one, and that was wonderful. Krissy has no qualms about spending the day with her grandmother, escorting her to doctor’s appointments before they sit down to talk about Kris’ plans and fears. As someone who is also close to my grandparents, I saw shades of my own relationship with my grandmothers in Gloria and Krissy’s chats. And it’s so rare to read about a happy family, isn’t it? The Gasbarre clan not only works but flourishes, leaning on one another through everything. It was heartwarming.

How To Love An American Man is framed around Gloria’s advice on becoming a strong, independent and worthwhile woman, and it’s not just about finding a husband (though she would certainly wish that for her granddaughter). Gloria is the scene-stealer in every chapter, doling out words of wisdom on marriages as partnerships and being the sort of woman you would be proud to know yourself. I loved that Krissy took her grandma seriously, treasuring her thoughts — and I also loved that, despite the somber tone echoing the Gasbarre family’s grief over losing their patriarch, the memoir never becomes maudlin.

On the contrary: it feels upbeat. And hopeful. And like, no matter what happens, Krissy will be able to savor the time she’s spent with her loved ones and become a better person for it. She certainly seems to have evolved from start to close, and that’s something I crave in my reading life: lessons learned.

Oh, yes — and there’s the love interest. Several, actually, but the most prominent would be Dr. Christopher, a local MD who dates Krissy briefly before hiring her instead. The whole will-they-or-won’t-they vibe, which was electric, had me craving to know the outcome . . . even though I wasn’t sure I would be pleased with the end result. Though self-centered, Chris did seem like a decent man — and I wanted him to be It for Krissy. Their relationship seemed well-drawn and realistic.

Read over a very busy weekend in which I snatched as much time as I could to crack its spine, How To Love An American Man is a stellar debut from Gasbarre that I would firmly recommend — especially to twenty-somethings and their mothers. It’s a powerful and lyrical look at family, love and commitment, and I’m dying to get my hands on Gasbarre’s follow-up — already in the works.

Hats off to you, Krissy; you have an enthusiastic new fan!

Pick up your copy of How To Love An American Man on August 16.

5 out of 5!

ISBN: 0061997390 ♥ GoodreadsLibraryThingAmazonAuthor Website
Review copy provided by LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers program

Book review: ‘Strings Attached’ by Judy Blundell

In 1950, 17-year-old Kit Corrigan arrives in New York City ready for her big break. She’s shed her life in Providence, Rhode Island, like a snake does its skin; she’s said goodbye to her well-meaning but jealous boyfriend, Billy, and resigned herself to a new life without him. Redheaded and diligent, Kit is tired of being one of the Corrigan Three — a trio of famous siblings that entered the world just as their mother left it.

She’s ready to move on.

But the past isn’t quite ready to let her go. After the Broadway show in which she’s worked as a dancer closes, a family friend darkens her doorstep, promising a sweet deal: come to work as a chorus girl at the Lido, a gentleman’s club in the city. Take this apartment. Stay here, wear these clothes — watch as your life is taken care of for you. You only have to do me these few favors, Kit . . . just these few favors. Little things. Nothing.

Don’t you owe me?

Oh, I’m in quite the love affair with Judy Blundell’s Strings Attached. I closed the book with trembling fingers, my mind struggling to wrap around the intricate convergence of so many plots. This novel is engrossing, calculated, painful. It’s sweeping and fully realized. It made me ache with loss.

I loved it.

Kit was, by far, my favorite character — a young woman who is naive, yes, but madly in love with the first man to steal her heart: Billy Benedict, Nate’s son. Big-time lawyer Nate has his fingers on the pulse of the mob, it’s rumored, and certainly seems to be up to no good — but his offer to Kit seems genuine. Forget casting Billy out. Stay in a private apartment, work for now and wait for him. Wait for Nate’s son, fresh in the army, to return. And when he does? Marry him. Marry him and go away.

But it’s not as simple as that. In fact, nothing in Blundell’s novel is easy — and no conclusion is reached without a fair amount of turmoil. I ripped through this book in days with a bottomless pit open in my stomach, dying to know what would become of the Corrigan family. Triplets Kit, Muddie and Jamie were all fleshed-out, sympathetic and fascinating teens — and Jimmy, the siblings’ father, was a man I couldn’t help but love. He was wrecked and absent and desperate, yes, but he was “Da” — their bullheaded Irish father. And he loved them fiercely, through and through — even when things became complicated, tragic. Maybe especially then.

The book’s setting — the pre-war years of 1937 up through the Depression, then the onset of the Korean War in 1950 — were what really captivated my imagination. Blundell perfectly captures the uncertainty of living in a time when it felt the world could collapse at any moment — and, selfishly, Strings Attached reminded me that life in 2011 ain’t got nothin’ on the Cold War, the threat of nuclear attack, the reality of boys disappearing from homeroom because they’d gone to fight someone else’s war. It was haunting and powerful. It felt like being dropped into a time machine, and I actually had to blink a few times to reenter the 21st century.

I really can’t say enough great things about this novel, and it’s not one I would want to spoil for you. The story tears along at a frantic speed, swinging you from Kit’s present life in New York to her early years in Providence. We learn of the past between the Corrigan and Benedict families by piecing together the tiles Kit offers, turning them around until we’ve formed a chipped mosaic. Until we get the full story. And by then, my heart was breaking.

Stunning, lovely, romantic, tear-inducing. Not to be missed.

5 out of 5!

ISBN: 0545230500 ♥ GoodreadsLibraryThingAmazonAuthor Website
Review copy provided by Amazon Vine in exchange for my honest review

Book review: ‘Anna and the French Kiss’ by Stephanie Perkins

Oh, this book. This book. I spent half of it pacing around; another half getting weepy and silly and emotional; another half clutching it to my chest and swooning like a 16-year-old.

Wait — was that three “halves”?

I’m losing my mind. But that’s what Anna and the French Kiss will do to you.

Seventeen-year-old Anna is the daughter of a famous schmaltzy writer who wants to give his daughter the chance to broaden her horizons — at a boarding school in France. Far from her home in Atlanta, Ga., Anna arrives at School of America in Paris without friends or the boyfriend she’s hoped to have by now: Toph, a former coworker at the movie theatre where they both worked.

It’s not long before Anna settles in, though, and begins to get the lay of the land at SOAP — with the help of new buddies, of course. Meredith, Rashmi and Josh welcome her into their circle of artists and athletes, but it’s the group’s wayward member — Etienne St. Clair, friend to all and hot as can be — that really grabs Anna’s attention.

Of course, she’s not interested in St. Clair. He’s sweet, funny and gregarious, plus he has a British accent and amazing hair, but Etienne has something else, too: a girlfriend. And Anna is missing Toph and her best friend stateside, Bridgette, so she has no time to worry about him. Or does she . . .

Stephanie Perkins’ Anna and the French Kiss really is as awesome as everyone claims. Like the colorful macarons Perkins describes, I couldn’t help but devour entire passages of this book whole. It’s funny, entertaining, witty, realistic and oh, so romantic. So romantic. I’m telling you now, I was swooning from here to the Atlantic with this novel clutched to my chest.

Etienne is so my new book crush. (But you’ll always be my first love, Marcus.)

You know when your best friend falls for a guy and talks about him so much that you start to think, “Hey, you know what? You’re right. That dude is awesome.” That’s totally Anna and me, BFFs: in love with the same man. It’s impossible not to fall in love with Etienne St. Clair, so I didn’t even try to stop myself. It would have been like putting out a house fire with a bottle of water. Smokin’.


So yes. This book. This book. I loved Anna and her occasionally clueless self. She felt like a real teen, a real friend — a young woman who was both intelligent and adorable, eager to please her family but struggling under the weight of her parents’ divorce. She was so linked to her little brother, Sean, that it tugged at my heartstrings. And even though she had all sorts of Big Stuff going on, it didn’t bring her down. She just kept moving forward, learning and experiencing as she went.

Anna and St. Clair’s friends were all well-drawn and believable, too. There when you needed them, but with their own difficulties to figure out. Again: realistic. I think that’s what I loved so much about this book: it was like I could have stepped right through the pages and sat with them at lunch. It made me — a 25-year-old — feel like I belonged at SOAP, too.

France came alive under Perkins’ fingertips, and I haven’t wanted to visit this bad since finishing French Milk last year. There is so much to love here — I could go on and on. But rather than encourage you to keep reading a ridiculously long review, just go get Anna and the French Kiss. Perkins has crafted a young adult book that readers of all ages will enjoy, relate to and, like me, want to hug after the final page has closed.

I totally hugged this book.

And I think you will, too.

5 out of 5!

ISBN: 0525423273 ♥ GoodreadsLibraryThingAmazonAuthor Website
Personal copy purchased by Meg

Book review: ‘Safe From The Sea’ by Peter Geye

Moody. Atmospheric. Unforgettable. In this stunning debut from author Peter Geye, a father and son are reconciled — and laid open, bare, along the frozen shores of Lake Superior in Minnesota.

Noah Torr has long stood in the shadow of his father, Olaf, a Norwegian immigrant and barrel of a man who has spent his life and career aboard ships transporting cargo on Lake Superior. Like a man returning home from war, Olaf retreated inward and into bottles after surviving a terrible shipwreck that claimed the lives of nearly all his fellow crew. When Noah could escape from Misquah, Minn., he did — and married Natalie, the well-to-do go-getter who now approaches her infertility issues with the same fervency she does her work.

Awash in his own sea of indecisions and missteps, Noah isn’t expecting a call from his aging father. It’s been five years since they last saw each other, and their time together then was painful and brief. But Olaf, after decades, is finally in need of assistance. In a pained voice Noah can barely hear, he asks his only son to come home.

Peter Geye’s Safe From The Sea offers just what its lovely, cold cover suggests: a turbulent tale of a father’s love; a depiction of the emotional and physical landscapes that divide us from one another, then reunite us once more. Though emotionally difficult, it’s a book I savored and found over all too quickly.

From the moment I was introduced to Noah, I felt a strong affinity for him. It was obvious the years had taken their toll — just as they had on his father, a man I was determined to dislike but ultimately could not. Olaf — reticent; headstrong; self-sufficient — isn’t accustomed to asking anyone for anything. But in reaching his hand out to Noah, and doing it on his own terms, I felt I could accept and love him. Just like his children do.

In telling the story of the Torr family, Geye chooses each word carefully. Never once did the pacing falter; never once was I weighed down with detail, with too much superfluous information. We’re told what it is we need to know. Often, this irks me — I mean, how soft was a pillow? How bright was the light? How warm was a kiss, or comforting an embrace? But you know, in reading Safe From The Sea, it never occurred to me to think about what was missing. All I could do was feel grateful for all I was given.

Like Noah and Natalie’s relationship, for example. Loaded down with the stress of trying to start a family, the couple didn’t seem to realize that they already had: with each other. Watching their interactions move from strained to tender was very emotional, and I found any dislike I had for Natalie and her perceived selfishness melting away. Despite everything, they understood each other. They longed for each other. It was realistic and heartbreaking and wonderful.

Olaf’s story of the Ragnarøk — the gigantic ship he was aboard when it sank — was mesmerizing. In Geye’s capable hands, the Rag’s demise took on a mythical quality — not unlike its namesake, a series of “future events” foretold in Old Norse mythology. During Ragnarøk, the myth holds, the earth will sink into the sea before “resurfac[ing] anew and fertile.” While the crew floundered in a terrible snowstorm, I felt the wind whipping back my hair and stinging my eyes. The fear, turmoil and ultimate determination to live was Olaf’s story to share, and I loved that Geye let us hear it in his own words. And that, finally, he shared it with his son.

It’s been a long time since I found a book that so moved me — a book I couldn’t help talking about with friends and coworkers. My fourth read for the Indie Lit Awards, I didn’t expect to fall so in love with a novel set in a freezing landscape about a disjointed family — but that’s precisely what happened. I loved that it was so different from anything else I’ve read in recent months. I loved that I fell in love with the characters . . . even the difficult ones.

It was an easy story to love.

For readers interested in family sagas, maritime histories (boats! high seas!) or profound looks at fatherhood and love, look no further than Safe From The Sea. My heart won’t be the same again.

5 out of 5!

ISBN: 160953008X ♥ GoodreadsLibraryThingAmazonAuthor Website
Personal copy purchased by Meg

Book review: ‘Life After Yes’ by Aidan Donnelley Rowley

Fresh from a weekend in Paris and with a sparkly new engagement ring on her finger, lawyer Prudence Quinn O’Malley should be floating on cloud nine — dancing through the streets singing Disney tunes, twirling in a fit of ecstasy, calling everyone she knows to squeal and cry and start planning every minor detail.

But the reality is that while madly in love with Sage, a kind-hearted i-banker with whom she lives in New York City, Quinn is plagued by doubts as to what this new “yes” — to a new life, a new world, a new marriage — really entails.

Still grieving the loss of her father, a barrel of a man who died in the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, Quinn feels adrift. As a high-powered lawyer at a major firm, she’s used to being rational — examining the evidence, gathering as much information as she can. And as Quinn begins to take a hard look at what her life has become and what it means to love, lose and move forward, she runs headfirst into an emotional journey that will change everything.

Every now and then, a novel like Aidan Donnelley Rowley’s Life After Yes finds its way into my life, and it’s moments when I’m reading a book like this — where I feel like my own face is reflected back at me — that I experience what I can only call literary magic.

Maybe it’s that Quinn is a mere two years older than me, grappling with mortality and love and “prudence,” with safety. Maybe it’s that the book is set and firmly ensconced in New York City — and I started it on the train ride back from a long weekend there. Maybe it’s that, as I was reading last night, I had my own “Sage” napping next to me with one arm firmly around my back. And I felt happy. And safe.

Whatever it was, I’ll say this loud and proud: Life After Yes spoke to me. Shouted at me, really, in a way that I haven’t experienced with a novel in a long, long time. For all her moral issues, uncertainties, flaws, contradictions and need for direction, Quinn — or Prudence, as some know her — felt like a real person. Human. Blood. She felt like me.

I sped through this novel in record time, unwilling to put it down, and found myself dog-earing passage after passage about happiness, love, moving forward. Rowley’s prose was deft and poignant, always striking the perfect balance between telling and showing. Nothing is worse than a book that’s all thought and no action, a story where I’m told to care about the characters simply because it’s easier for the author.

This wasn’t that book.

Two of my favorite quotes, because my review can’t — and won’t — do this excellent book justice:

Growing up doesn’t just happen. It’s not a fact; it’s a decision.

This is how happiness comes — in small moments, in fierce flashes. It’s not a state of being, not remotely permanent.

What could have become a sad, maudlin tale — especially given Quinn’s emotional vulernability — became, instead, a story of perseverance, of unexpected moments of joy, of choosing happiness instead of just waiting for it to wash over you. Life After Yes also served as a big “screw you!” to conventional ideas about what our lives “should” be — filled with prudence, balance, careful thinking — and not being afraid to take the giant leaps. Those are the ones that matter.

Do I sound silly, over-the-top and way too excited about this book? Probably. But that’s just because I feel silly, over-the-top and excited just thinking about it. It’s rare to find a novel that seems to stretch its thin, cool fingers into the cockles of your heart and pull out every little thought and doubt you have in there, but Aidan Donnelley Rowley did that. For me.

Fans of women’s fiction, family dynamics, contemporary fiction, just plain good books — pick this one up. I think she’ll do that for you, too.

5 out of 5!

ISBN: 0451227999 ♥ Purchase from AmazonAuthor Blog

tlc_logo copy

Review copy provided by TLC Book Tours

Book review: ‘The Help’ by Kathryn Stockett

At work, I’m fortunate to have a close friend — and avid fellow reader — in my officemate, Sandy. Whenever I’m done with a novel I think closely matches her tastes, I’m quick to drop it off with her. And in turn, Sandy often leaves hardcovers in my office with Post-It notes saying “Enjoyed it! Thanks!” or “Read this one!”

Walking in recently, Sandy turned to me with wild eyes and raised eyebrows. “I’m reading a book . . .” she began, as she often does. “Have you heard of this one?”

In one deft movement, she pulled a copy of Kathryn Stockett’s The Help from a totebag and showed it to me like a prize. I told her no, I hadn’t read it, but I purchased a copy with some Christmas money after seeing the novel on countless “Best Of 2009” lists. It was sitting on my shelf with more than a hundred other novels, waiting to be opened and discovered by yours truly.

“You have to read it,” she told me firmly. “It’s . . . you just have to read it.”

Delighted that I would have someone to chat about the book with live and in person (not that I don’t love you folks!), I set aside everything else I was reading last week and picked up the hefty tome. Coming in at more than 400 pages, The Help was a novel that intrigued me — but I was scared to start it, feeling like I’d be weighed down by the heavy subject matter and the tons of pages.

I needn’t have feared a thing.

With family dilemmas, dates, shopping and other activities taking up most of my Friday, Saturday and Sunday, I still managed to finish this entire book in one weekend. That basically required me to carry it with me everywhere I went, something I gladly did, and to scan the pages with any snippet of time I had. By Sunday evening, the pacing had reached such a fever that I simply could not stop reading . . . just as Sandy had warned me.

“Once you hit the final 100 pages,” she said before leaving the office, “make sure you have enough time to actually finish it.”

I don’t know if you’re familiar with Stockett’s novel — a debut so exquisite, I really find it hard to believe we don’t have any other spines bearing her name on bookshelves. There’s no way I could summarize it and I don’t want to try, so I’ll cheat — just this once! — and share the publisher’s description:

Three ordinary women are about to take one extraordinary step.

Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone.

Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken.

Minny, Aibileen’s best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody’s business, but she can’t mind her tongue, so she’s lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town to know her reputation. But her new boss has secrets of her own.

Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed.

In pitch-perfect voices, Kathryn Stockett creates three extraordinary women whose determination to start a movement of their own forever changes a town, and the way women — mothers, daughters, caregivers, friends — view one another. A deeply moving novel filled with poignancy, humor, and hope, The Help is a timeless and universal story about the lines we abide by, and the ones we don’t.

Sounds great, right? Right.

I identify so much with Skeeter that it’s shocking, right down to her burning desire to become a published writer and her feelings of in-between-ness. Her love affair was like a sock to the stomach, swift and surprising in the way that it affected me. I loved the calculated way in which she fought the system, her tenacity to continue with a project she knew could mean imminent ruin for so many people. And while I was sometimes frustrated by her lack of understanding and irresponsibility (the satchel, anyone?), she was a believable, fully-drawn woman.

The book alternates between view points, dropping us in and out of Aibileen, Minny and Skeeter’s minds from section to section. Though I adored all three women for very different reasons, my favorite was probably Minny. She was outspoken in a time when such a thing was a terrible liability; she possessed a great inner strength that kept her moving forward and optimistic, even though she sometimes pretends to be a hardened, cold woman. (She’s totally not.) In short, I loved her.

The Help broke my heart — then healed it. For as heavy as the subject of race relations is, I often found myself laughing — sometimes at the absurdity of things like Hilly’s “proposal” to create separate bathrooms in the homes of all white families, so the “diseases” of the black workers wouldn’t spread to white bottoms. Sometimes at the hilarity of Minny’s narration and unique phrasing, the way she calls her employer Celia a “fool” — but you know that’s a sincere form of affection. And sometimes — sometimes — just laughing at the fact that 50 short years ago, this is the way things were in many parts of the country. That this was acceptable. That people didn’t question this. Right here . . . in the United States of America.

That blows my mind.

I could talk about this book all day, and if you’re interested? Stop by and see me. We can. Suffice it to say that I really did laugh, cry and frantically flip my way through it, hoping against hope that it never actually had to end. The suspense of the story was incredible — this feeling of anxiety and nervousness that kept me reading page after page, hoping that everything would turn out all right. I fell in love with every character — except that psychotic witch Hilly — and wanted to reach in and . . . what? Help them? I don’t know. Be with them.

An important novel that tackles Major Issues that still manages to be entertaining, lively, affecting and unbelievably moving? It’s a rare find, friends, and it gets my absolute highest recommendation. If you don’t already have a copy of The Help sitting on your bookshelf, it’s about time you grabbed one. And if yours is languishing in the stacks, just as mine was? Pluck it out of obscurity and set a weekend aside. I think you’ll be glad you did.

5 out of 5!

ISBN: 0439899281 ♥ Purchase from AmazonAuthor Website
Personal copy purchased by Meg