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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
In a poignant tale of tangled emotions and triumphant redemption, Kristin Hannah highlights the troubled relationship between a mother and her daughter in Summer Island. Forced to learn things about the mother she's hated for years, Ruby Bridge learns some tough lessons about love, forgiveness, and understanding. But it's a lesson that comes at a painfully high cost.
Nora Bridge has built a highly successful career as an advice columnist valued for her frank honesty and high moral standards. She is nationally syndicated in the newspapers and has a radio talk show on a Seattle station. But when a devastating scandal from her past is exposed, she becomes tabloid fodder, triggering hateful letters and vicious comments from the very same public that once adored her. Adding to her stress is the news that Eric Sloan, one of the boyhood chums Nora's daughters grew up with, is dying of cancer. In trying to flee from the press and her own demons, Nora has an accident with her car that results in some fairly serious injuries.
Nora retreats to the family's summer home, located on one of the San Juan Islands. She needs someone to help with her day-to-day care and offers the job to her eldest daughter, Ruby, a frustrated stand-up comic whose career is circling the drain. Ruby hasn't spoken to her mother in years, ever since Nora walked out on the girls and their father more than a decade ago, but when she's offered the chance to write something about her mother's sordid past, Ruby accepts both the offer and the responsibility for Nora's care. Thinking of little but revenge, Ruby digs deeper into her mother's psyche and past than she ever has before, intending to use the information she uncovers in a scathing tell-all. But what she finds there comes as a surprise, as does the reawakened love she discovers when she runs into her childhood sweetheart, the boy who broke her heart nearly ten years before.
Hannah depicts the subtle nuances and emotional complexities of the mother-daughter relationship with exquisite detail in this ambitious work. The very human and highly vulnerable heroines are as real as they are appealing, and the underlying themes of forgiveness, redemption, and making the most of what you have serves as a valuable reminder. (Beth Amos)