The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

October 3, 2008

Book review: 'Beach House' is a perfect beach read

‘The Beach House’

By Jane Green (adult fiction)

It is rumored that Nan Powell is a witch, but the majority of the Nantucket residents agree that she is, at the very least, eccentric. She lives in a rambling beach house, skinny dips in her neighbor’s swimming pool, chain-smokes as she bicycles around the island, and pretty much does as she pleases.

Despite seeming to have an ideal existence on the island, the 65-year-old widow finds herself in a financial predicament — thanks in part to her dead husband’s gambling debts and a string of bad investments by her incompetent hedge-fund adviser.

In an effort to save her beloved house, Nan takes out an ad on the Internet: “Rooms to rent for the summer in a beautiful old Nantucket home with water views and direct access to the beach.” Soon the house is alive again, and Nan quickly befriends her new boarders and their families. Eventually her son, fleeing a failed relationship, returns home for the summer, and Nan could not be happier.

Jane Green has written a refreshing tale that is sure to captivate readers. This is the perfect beach read with its beautiful setting, assortment of well-developed characters, romance, drama and a surprise guest that will shock readers.

‘Belong to Me’

By Marisa de los Santos

Cornelia Brown, star of “Love Walked In,” has returned and this time she and her husband, Teo, have moved from New York City to a Philadelphia suburb with the hope of starting a family.

Despite wanting to live in suburbia, Cornelia has a hard time adjusting and is immediately at odds with her neighbor, Piper Truitt, who is the epitome of everything suburban. She has a perfect lawn, two adorable children, a handsome husband, but despite Piper’s illusion of perfection, she cannot escape the reality that her best friend is dying from cancer.

The story is partially told through Cornelia’s first-person narrative, but de los Santos effectively uses other chapters to give voice to Piper and Dev, a teenager whose mother, Lake, befriends Cornelia. Not everything in this story is as it appears and soon Cornelia and Teo find themselves in the middle of a secret that threatens their happiness.

While the book is sappy and at times predictable, de los Santos has crafted a delightful story that fans of the genre are sure to adore.

‘Certain Girls’

By Jennifer Weiner

Cannie Shapiro is back! But instead of being the feisty, quick-tempered heroine of “Good in Bed” that millions feel in love with, she has settled into motherhood and domestic life. She is now writing series fiction under a pen name and has no desire to be in the limelight.

To be honest, she is quite embarrassed about the media sensation that her previous novel caused and would like to keep the steamy details from her 12-year-old daughter, Joy. Joy is at that age in a teen’s life where her mother is an embarrassment and to add her teen angst, the planning of her bat mitzvah is not going according to plan. She wants an elaborate affair similar to the mitzvahs of her friends, but her mother is dead-set on having a simple, religious affair. In the end, an unexpected tragedy trivializes the bat mitzvah and brings mother and daughter together for a sensational finale.

It is told in alternating chapters through Cannie’s and Joy’s perspectives, and while it may not rival “Good in Bed,” fans will appreciate this addition to the chick-lit genre.

Jeana Gockley is the children’s librarian at Joplin Public Library.