Warner, 2005 (2005)
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Reviewed by Hilary Williamson
welve-year-old Hope lives in an unusual family, not the typical dysfunctional one but simply a different one. After her mother died in childbirth, Hope's father, Bobby Teller, left the baby girl to the joint guardianship of his sister Ruth and his ex-girlfriend, Sara Lynn Hoffman. They share a home with Sara Lynn's mother Mamie, and all three women love Hope dearly. But they all also have their own long-held issues, and it turns out that the adolescent Hope becomes a catalyst, who disrupts their stasis and raises new
in their lives.
atie Willard alternates between the points of view of Ruth, Sara Lynn, Hope and Mamie, with regular flashbacks as Ruth and Sara Lynn recall the strong early dislike that they had for each other - the
' and the poor house cleaner's daughter. Now, they are more like sisters. Ruth works as a waitress and has been having a secret affair with her older boss, Jack Pignoli, for years - he wants them to marry but she worries about her responsibility for Hope. Ruth's Ma, whom she quarreled with continually but loved deeply, died of cancer just before Bobby left.
x-lawyer Sara Lynn works as a landscape consultant. She has spent her life trying, and failing, to meet her mother's expectations. Sara Lynn, who once loved Bobby, develops a relationship with a younger man named Sam, a tennis pro and painter, unaware that Hope has a crush on him. Hope is at an age where her family situation feels strange (her peers mock her for it) and she desperately wants to find her father. She argues with a new arrival, a boy named Dan who offers to help her search for her dad. Mamie worries about Sara Lynn, but cannot accept her as she is. Things work out through the novel, in interesting ways.
is a sweet story of three generations of women, who care for each other in complicated ways. Katie Willard bundles into her novel friends who encourage each other to move out of their comfort zones; conflicted love between mothers and daughters; the angst of adolescence; and developing romance.
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