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Minding Frankie    by Maeve Binchy order for
Minding Frankie
by Maeve Binchy
Order:  USA  Can
Orion, 2010 (2010)
Hardcover, Softcover, CD, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Joan Burton

In Dublin, Ireland there is a very close-knit middle class community on St. Jarlath's Crescent. Emily Lynch is visiting from New York in order to find her Irish roots in the county where her deceased father grew up. She is staying with her aunt and uncle, Josie and Charles Lynch. Emily is an energetic doer, who sees possibilities in everyone and everything. She feels right at home in the community and before too long she is helping others with their problems.

Emily's cousin Noel has just found out that Stella, a young woman with whom he had a one night stand, is terminally ill and pregnant with his child. Though he agrees to raise the baby girl, Noel is the least likely man to become a good father. He is an uneducated alcoholic, stuck in a dead end job and still living with his parents. Everyone, including Noel, is skeptical of his ability to raise a child. With Emily's help, Noel joins AA to change his life, goes back to school to further his studies, and moves into his own flat. Noel's friend Lisa moves in as his flatmate and round the clock caregiver to Frankie, but she is dealing with her own problems. She is obsessed with Anton, a chef who is very charming but not ready for a commitment.

There are many babysitters from the neighbourhood willing to lend a hand and help out with the raising of Frankie. They include Noel's parents Josie and Charles; Dr. Declan and his wife Fiona; and old friends Signora and Aidan. All are ready to help, but all come with their own personal problems to sort out. The arrangement seems to be working out, until a nosy, lonely, social worker named Moira becomes convinced Frankie would be better off adopted out to a loving couple. Moira is looking for any reason she can to separate Noel from Frankie. Moira has secrets of her own she is not revealing, but hopes to do right for Frankie.

Minding Frankie is a heartwarming story of family, friends, and the things they will do for love. Frankie acts as a catalyst to bring together a cast of strangers - and how they each change is amazing. Each person becomes better for minding Frankie, some finding a new direction in life, and others questioning the choices they have made. And we are reunited with characters from previous Binchy novels and make new friends along the way.

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