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Posted March 19, 2005
FIRST-RATE VOICE PERFORMANCE BY MELISSA LEO
Writing under the name of Judith Michael, the husband/wife team of Judith Barnard and Michael Fain have won a host of fans (A Certain Smile). They know just how much romance to blend with suspense to make readers happy. They've done it again with 'The Real Mother.' Daytime Emmy nominee Melissa Leo gives a virtuoso performance of this story of a giving young woman faced with difficult choices. She beautifully segues between the almost saintly Sara Elliott and the often foul-mouthed 20-year-old Mack. When Sara's mother suffers a disabling stroke, Sara returns to Chicago to take on the care of her step brothers and sisters. There is no one else. Her father is dead, her mother's second husband took off, and Mack, the eldest from her mother's second marriage, also took to the road - but not for long. Mack returns, rather nonchalantly just as if he had never deserted his responsibility for his younger siblings. He's a complex character, swinging between volatile and thoughtful. It's not long before the young ones align themselves with him against Sara. However, there's light on the horizon in the form of Reuben, a steadfast man from New York who wants to build a low-income housing project. As we best know, the best laid plans can go awry or made to go awry. An engrossing listen.
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