Who Do You Love by Jennifer Weiner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Rachel grows up the beloved daughter of wealthy parents in Florida. They are extra attention as she is born with a heart problem and requires multiple surgeries as a child. At age eight, in the ER, she meets Andy, also age 8. Waiting alone in the ER, he has a broken arm, and Rachel calms him down with stories. While it's a short meeting, the two leave a clear impression on each other, even as children.
Obviously, the premise of the novel is that Rachel and Andy will meet again, so when they do so in high school it doesn't come as a big shock. In fact, one of things Weiner does so well with this story is weaving a compelling tale, despite the reader knowing that Rachel and Andy will run into each other, over and over. It's definitely rough in some spots and jumps around a bit, but it's an enjoyable read. Rachel is an interesting character, if not always a likable one, but she comes across as human and real. Andy is a little harder to get to know, but he too is an intriguing character. The book makes a big show comparing Rachel's wealthy upbringing and Andy's impoverished childhood in Philadelphia - sometimes it seems a bit forced, but it brings up some good points about the class system. Some of the plot is a little unrealistic and it wraps up rather predictably, but I still found this a fun read and more enjoyable than some of Weiner's last couple of books.
Summer Secrets by Jane Green
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Cat is a journalist in London, divorced, and raising her daughter. Earlier, her mother had revealed a secret about Cat's past -- the identity of her true father. When Cat journeyed to Nantucket to meet him - and her two half sisters - something bad happened, and it traumatized her. Now she's a recovering alcoholic and wondering if she can right the wrongs from her long ago meeting with her estranged family.
This was an enjoyable read - the story goes back and forth with flashbacks, which helps build up the suspense. Some of the plot is a little outlandish, but it's a fast read and fun. It's a little painful to read sometimes; Cat can certainly be a frustrating character at times, and you just want to shake her. (Also, I don't recommend reading this if you're triggered by reading alcoholism scenes.) However, present day Cat is a relatable character, for the most part, and fun to root for. Her two half sisters, Julia and Ellie, are pieces of work in themselves, and the book presents a fairly realistic look at modern day family and sisterhood. Overall, probably 3.5 stars.
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