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The Things We Do For Love    by Kristin Hannah order for
Things We Do For Love
by Kristin Hannah
Order:  USA  Can
Ballantine, 2004 (2004)
Hardcover, Audio, CD
* * *   Reviewed by Melissa Parcel

Kristin Hannah is a master at portraying women's emotional journeys, and The Things We Do For Love is another exceptional example of how she reaches into our souls with her writing.

Angie Malone comes from a close, loving Italian family. At a young age, she turned away from her family's small-town restaurant to explore a life and career in the big city of Seattle. Now, after her ten-year marriage falls apart, she returns home to the comfort of her mother and sisters. The restaurant has seen better days, and Angie makes it her mission to save the business and resurrect its image in the eyes of the town. What Angie can't seem to get past (and was the death blow to her marriage to Conlan) is her inability to have children. For so long, trying to get pregnant was Conlan's and Angie's sole focus, and their marriage suffered in the process.

Lauren Ribido is the responsible one in her family. A senior in high school, most of the time she is the one who must come up with the rent because her mother can't be bothered to stay out of the bars and go to work. Lauren is bound and determined to do something special with her life. She studies hard and gets high grades in anticipation of attending a good college. When not working, Lauren spends time with her boyfriend David, who is from one of the richest families in town. Everything is progressing smoothly until she loses her job. Fate brings Lauren and Angie together, and their growing relationship is exactly what each is looking for at this rough time in their lives.

The novel contains richly detailed characters who will reach out and grab your heart. Readers will feel deeply for Angie and her struggles with infertility, and empathize with Lauren's various heartaches. At first I thought I could predict what was going to happen, and the plot seemed a bit too contrived and planned. But the ending turns out like real life, and not a neatly tied up package at all. That's what sets this story above other contemporary women's fiction; it might be messy, but readers can truly relate to the reality of what happens.

The setting of the family's Italian restaurant and all of the cooking and eating made me hungry, but it added to the coziness of the novel. The author's portrayal of the Northwest always draws me into her stories. She sets books in areas she knows and draws beautiful pictures of the regions. Characters' emotional transformations are well described and flow at a natural pace. Even though the subject matter might appear depressing, I found this to be a wonderfully uplifting book. The Things We Do For Love is hopeful and loving, and not to be missed.

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