Favorite Quotes on Books and Reading

"A book is a gift you can open again and again." Garrison Keillor

Literature is a textually transmitted disease, normally contracted in childhood.” Jane Yolen

"It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it." Oscar Wilde

"Books have furnished, burnished, and enabled my life." Julia Keller

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Book 83: THE BEST OF US Review


The Best of Us by Sarah Pekkanen
ISBN:  9781451673517 (paperback)
ISBN:  9781451673524 (ebook)
ISBN:  9781442359970 (audiobook)
ASIN:  B008J4PJXW (Kindle edition)
Publication date: April 9, 2013
Publisher: Washington Square Press

Paradise isn't quite what it seems as four college friends meet for an island vacation in this captivating new novel from the acclaimed author of These Girls.
Following a once-in-a-lifetime invitation, a group of old college friends leap at the chance to bring their husbands for a week's vacation at a private villa in Jamaica to celebrate a former classmates' thirty-fifth birthday.
All four women are desperate for a break and this seems like a perfect opportunity. Tina is drowning under the demands of mothering four young children. Allie needs to escape from the shattering news about an illness that runs in her family. Savannah is carrying the secret of her husband's infidelity. And, finally, there's Pauline, who spares no expense to throw her husband an unforgettable birthday celebration, hoping it will gloss over the cracks that have already formed in their new marriage.
The week begins idyllically, filled with languorous days and late nights of drinking and laughter. But as a hurricane approaches the island, turmoil builds, forcing each woman to re-evaluate everything she's known about the others—and herself.

Tina, Allie, Savannah and Pauline are four women with very different lives. All four have their own set of issues to overcome and all four think that the others are great examples of what life could be. Tina, Allie, Savannah and Dwight all attended college together and have remained friends over the years. They've added their spouses into this mix and Dwight's wife, Pauline, has invited all of his friends and their wives to Jamaica for one week to celebrate his birthday. When a near tragedy strikes, all four women will be forced to take inventory of their lives and make some hard choices in The Best of Us by Sarah Pekkanen.

Tina worked as a nurse in a busy and hectic emergency room. She was used to chaos and stress . . . or she thought she was before having four children within eight years’ time. Now she's always tired. She simply doesn't have the energy to cook "elaborate" meals such as homemade lasagna any more. She worries about money because she knows that her husband, Gio, may suffer as a contractor due to the economy. Now she's feeling guilty because she's leaving her children for one glorious week in Jamaica.

Allie has two glorious children and a loving husband. She works part-time as a social worker and keeps fit by jogging daily. She loves her adoptive family and is grateful her mother has volunteered to take not only her children, but Tina and Gio's four, so that they can all go on this one-week vacation to Jamaica. Allie's life is good but she's recently received some news that has her terrified. Does she admit her fears to her husband? Does she follow through with special testing or just ignore the issue and enjoy life?

Savannah has always been the flirt. Now that her husband has left her for another woman, and not even for someone better in her opinion, Savannah is determined to prove that she is just as lovely and desirable as anyone else. Although the invitation included Gary, Savannah is determined to go on the trip alone and enjoy herself as much as possible in an effort to forget Gary and the fact that she's truly alone.

Pauline is determined to make this week in Jamaica as enjoyable as possible. All she wants is for Dwight and his friends to have a good time and for this birthday to be memorable. She knows she's gone a little overboard but wants to impress Dwight's friends. She's also a little jealous because she simply doesn't have the history with Dwight that the other women have with him. She's also forced to face whether she should reveal her family secrets relating to her dying sister and more with the hopes that this will resolve some of the issues with her marriage.

Ms. Pekkanen has provided a wonderful study of friendship, family and the effects of tragedy or near-tragedy on relationships. All of the characters are quite likable, even when they are doing something rather detestable. This one week in "Paradise" reveals that no one is ever what they may appear to be and that even "Paradise" has problems. All of the main characters have secrets that they are forced to deal with over the course of this vacation. The Best of Us is crammed with drama, revenge, secrets, affairs, romance, death, guilt, self-awareness, jealousy, envy, and forgiveness. Although Ms. Pekkanen deals with some weighty issues, she does so in a way that never detracted from this reader's enjoyment. If you're looking for a contemporary fiction read that shows the grass is not always greener, then you want to read The Best of Us.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review purposes from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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