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Summer Island    by Kristin Hannah order for
Summer Island
by Kristin Hannah
Order:  USA  Can
Crown, 2001 (2001)
Hardcover, Audio, CD

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* *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

Millions of loyal fans rely on the down-to-earth and moral advice that Nora Bridge delivers on the radio and in her advice columns. But when explicit photos of an illicit affair surface, followed by the news that Nora abandoned her husband and children years before, these same loyal fans are the first to turn on her. Labeled a hypocrite and treated like a pariah, Nora is forced into retreat from her public and the hungry tabloids.

Nora's estranged daughters, Caroline and Ruby, are also dragged into the media frenzy, in particular Nora's youngest, Ruby. She's hated her mother since the day Nora left them without explanation and has thrown all her energy and emotion into making it on the comedy stage. Ruby's act relies heavily on the bad side of mother-daughter relationships and news of Nora's disgrace isn't a big surprise. When a national magazine offers Ruby twenty five thousand dollars to write a scathing exposé about Nora Bridge, she leaps at the chance to make her mother's national downfall absolute.

Nora is hurt in a car accident, and Caroline begs Ruby to take care of their mother at the rambling old house where they grew up on Summer Island. Ruby eventually agrees, seeing playing nursemaid as the perfect way to research her article. The women draw a line of truce, but it's soon crossed as mother and daughter realize it's high time to confront the past - drag out and air all of the family's dirty linen. Her mother's revelations force Ruby to face an even greater truth about why her mother left them. Ruby's teenage sweetheart, Dean, also comes back into her life. He's returned home to be with his brother, Eric, who's dying of cancer. Through Eric's eyes the pair ultimately learns that life is far too short to waste on grudges and misunderstandings.

Kristin Hannah pens a poignant tale of family and its intricate workings, particularly the unbreakable bond between mothers and daughters. While Nora's and Ruby's problems may have been resolved a bit too swiftly and neatly, the story brims with emotion and by its end readers are guaranteed to shed a few tears.

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