Friday, May 26, 2017

What's in the mail...plus a giveaway

Melissa A:
Watch Me Disappear by Janelle Brown from Random House (e-book via NetGalley)
Dating You, Hating You by Christina Lauren from Gallery
Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan from BookSparks
Woman No. 17 by Edan Lepucki from BookSparks
Best Intentions by Erika Raskin from St. Martin's Press

Goodnight from London by Jennifer Robson from BookSparks
The Lying Game by Ruth Ware from Gallery (e-book via NetGalley)
When You Find Out the World is Against You by Kelly Oxford from Dey Street Books
The Map that Leads to You by J.P. Monninger from St. Martin's Press
Seeking Sarah by ReShonda Tate Billingsley from Gallery (e-book via NetGalley)
Beach House for Rent by Mary Alice Monroe from Gallery
One Less Problem Without You by Beth Harbison (paperback) from St. Martin's Press




Melissa A and Sara:
The Internet Never Lies by/from Jennifer Ammoscato (e-book)

Sara:
Ella's Ice Cream Summer by Sue Watson from Bookoture (e-book)
Saving Grace by/from Susanna O'Neill (e-book)

Jami:
Girl Ghosted by Lucy English from Smith Publicity (e-book via NetGalley)
Best Friend for Hire by Mary Carlomagno from Laura Rossi Public Relations
The One that Got Away by Leigh Himes from TLC Book Tours (e-book via NetGalley)



What could be in YOUR mail?

When You Find Out the World is Against You by Kelly Oxford

Thanks to Dey Street Books, we have THREE copies to give away!

The author of the New York Times bestseller Everything Is Perfect When You’re a Liar returns with a deeper and even funnier new collection of essays about the pleasures and perils of living in Kelly Oxford’s head.

Kelly Oxford likes to blow up the internet. Whether it is with the kind of Tweets that lead Rolling Stone to name her one of the Funniest People on Twitter or with pictures of her hilariously adorable family (human and animal) or with something much more serious, like creating the hashtag #NotOkay, where millions of women came together to share their stories of sexual assault, Kelly has a unique, razor-sharp perspective on modern life. As a screen writer, professional sh*t disturber, wife and mother of three, Kelly is about everything but the status quo.

Perfect for anyone who ever wished David Sedaris and Mindy Kaling would just finally write a book together already, When You Find Out the World is Against You is filled with the biting, wise, and laugh-out-loud insights that have won Kelly legions of fans. Whether she’s detailing her obsession as an eleven-year-old with going to camp so she can become a “kissing bandit,” exploring the bittersweet boredom that so often accompanies parenthood, calling out the insanity of a posse of internet poodle vigilantes, writing bracingly about the anxiety that has plagued her as long as she can remember or taking us to ride shotgun as she stalks her husband on an accidental date with another man, When You Find Out the World Is Against You is Kelly at her most honest and disarmingly funny best. Her comedic skill, down-to-earth voice, and bull’s-eye observations on the absurdity of modern life mean there is nothing quite like seeing the world through Kelly’s eyes. (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.)

How to win: Use Rafflecopter to enter the giveaway. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us. If you have trouble using Rafflecopter on our blog, enter the giveaway here

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Giveaway ends June 1st at midnight EST.

Cover Reveal: Little Gray Dress



Title: Little Gray Dress
Author: Aimee Brown
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Publisher: Crooked Cat Books
Release Date: August 2nd, 2017
Pre-Orders Available: Early July

Blurb:
Emi Harrison has avoided her ex-fiance, Jack Cabot, for nearly two years. Her twin brother Evan’s wedding is about to end that streak.

From bad bridesmaid’s dresses, a hyperactive sister-in-law, a mean girl with even meaner secrets, and too much to drink, nothing seems to go right for Emi, except when she’s wearing her little gray dress.
When she speed-walks into Liam Jaxon’s bar, things get more complicated. He’s gorgeous, southern, and has no past with Emi. He may be exactly what she needs to prove for the last time that she doesn’t need or want Jack!

Her favorite little gray dress has made an appearance at nearly every major event in Emi’s adult life. Will it make another grand appearance when she least expects it?

Pre-Order the Book in early July.
*for a notification when the books pre-order is up, sign-up for her author newsletter.

About the Author:
Author Bio:

Aimee Brown is a writer and avid reader, often blogging her thoughts on chick lit books. Little Gray Dress is her first novel published. She’s currently studying for her Bachelor’s degree in English Writing. She spends much of her time writing her next book, doing homework, raising three teenagers, binge watching shows on Netflix and obsessively cleaning and redecorating her house. She’s fluent in sarcasm and has been known to use far too many swear words.

Aimee grew up in Oregon but is now a transplant living in cold Montana with her husband of twenty years, three teenage children, and many, many pets.

She would love to hear your thoughts on Little Gray Dress! If you want to chat with her she’s very active on social media.

Author Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | Sign-Up for her Newsletter

Participate in the Book Tour:

Aimee would love to have you as a part of this upcoming release day book tour!
If you'd like to sign-up to review the book during the tour or post a feature, author q&a, author guest post, excerpt, or giveaway, click the image below to sign-up.


Or --- sign-up here ---> http://authoraimeebrown.com/little-gray-dress/



Thursday, May 25, 2017

Liz and Lisa's influential stories...plus a book giveaway

Introduction by Melissa Amster

You all probably know by now what a fan-girl I am over Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke's books. I've met them in person at Book Expos and love how sweet and down-to-earth they are. Their friendship reminds me of what I have with my BFF. We've been friends for almost the same amount of time (25 for them, 30 for us). Also, we both live far apart from each other, but the miles don't matter. 

In the past, their books have covered surreal topics, such as body swapping and time travel. This time around, they've moved their writing in a new direction....suspense. Their latest novel, The Good Widow (reviewed here), takes readers on a trip to Maui in a twisted adventure. Thanks to Goldberg McDuffie, we have THREE copies to give away!

To learn more about what makes Liz and Lisa tick, as well as the history of their friendship, visit them online:
Website 
Facebook 
Twitter 
Instagram 
Pinterest 


Synopsis:
Elementary school teacher Jacqueline “Jacks” Morales’s marriage was far from perfect, but even in its ups and downs it was predictable, familiar. Or at least she thought it was…until two police officers showed up at her door with devastating news. Her husband of eight years, the one who should have been on a business trip to Kansas, had suffered a fatal car accident in Hawaii. And he wasn’t alone.

For Jacks, laying her husband to rest was hard. But it was even harder to think that his final moments belonged to another woman—one who had left behind her own grieving and bewildered fiancĂ©. Nick, just as blindsided by the affair, wants answers. So he suggests that he and Jacks search for the truth together, retracing the doomed lovers’ last days in paradise.

Now, following the twisting path of that fateful road, Jacks is learning that nothing is ever as it seems. Not her marriage. Not her husband. And most certainly not his death…(Courtesy of Goodreads.)

We have both been reading for as long as we can remember. There are so many books that have impacted us, inspired us, challenged us and changed us. Here is a list of the ones that really stand out.

The books that impacted Liz:

*Summer Sisters by Judy Blume

To this day, this amazing novel about friendship remains my all-time favorite. Told in multiple narratives, Blume bridged the gap from adolescence to adult reading seamlessly for me. The friendships she depicted were layered and complicated, just as they are in real life, and continues to inspire the relationships we showcase in our own books.

*Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah

I remember where I was when I found Firefly Lane. I was on vacation and popped into the B&N in Rancho Mirage, CA. My kids were at that age where they were so cute but incredibly exhausting and I was looking for an easy read while they napped. What I discovered was an amazing tale of a long-term friendship, which reminded me at times of my own with Lisa. I read it again and again until the pages began to fall apart, and still think of it when I'm writing our novels.

*After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid

TJR nails the complexities of marriage in this pitch perfect novel. I had been in a writing slump and Taylor's addicting narrative kept me turning the pages and inspired to get back on the computer to finish our own book. And to this day, is the only book I've quoted out loud to my husband. (He totally ignored me, but still!)


The books that impacted Lisa:


*Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume

I was an avid reader as a child, but it was after finishing this book that I first started dreaming of being an author. The story inspired me to write my first book called, There’s a Jungle in My Closet. That was never published—never even made it out of my spiral notebook. But it was the first of many and I thank Judy Blume for that.

*Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

This is the first memoir I’d ever read. And I didn’t just read it once, I read it three times. To date, it’s the only book I’ve read more than twice. As a reader, I connected with the messages in her book and was challenged to be more self-aware. To stop making the same mistakes in relationships, in life. As a writer I was inspired to take more risks, to step outside of my comfort zone.

*Wild by Cheryl Strayed

I was intrigued by all the buzz around this memoir I’d heard everyone from Oprah to my neighbor talking about. I wondered how a story about a woman who’d taken a hike had become watercooler fodder. But once I cracked open the hardback and began reading, it was instantly clear why Cheryl Strayed had captivated the country. Wild is a heart wrenching story that is beautifully written. Her prose inspired me to push my boundaries as a writer—to say more with less words. To work harder to bring readers into the world I was trying to create. To just be better. I’d like to think I am.

A book that impacted both Liz and Lisa:


*Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

This is the novel that first inspired us to write suspense. After we read Gone Girl, we—like most of the planet—couldn’t stop talking about this book that was so different. That unreliable narrator! That plot! That ending! We started discussing the idea of tackling a new genre. Could we? Would we? The answer was yes! The Good Widow is out on June 1!

Thanks to Liz and Lisa for visiting and to Goldberg McDuffie for sharing their book with our readers.

How to win: Use Rafflecopter to enter the giveaway. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us. If you have trouble using Rafflecopter on our blog, enter the giveaway here

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Giveaway ends June 1st at midnight EST.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

BookSparks #SRC2017 May novels


Today the spotlight is on the May books for BookSparks' Summer Reading Challenge of 2017. We are not featuring In This Moment, as Karma Brown is visiting CLC next week. All synopses are courtesy of Amazon.

Into The Water by Paula Hawkins

A single mother turns up dead at the bottom of the river that runs through town. Earlier in the summer, a vulnerable teenage girl met the same fate. They are not the first women lost to these dark waters, but their deaths disturb the river and its history, dredging up secrets long submerged.

Left behind is a lonely fifteen-year-old girl. Parentless and friendless, she now finds herself in the care of her mother's sister, a fearful stranger who has been dragged back to the place she deliberately ran from—a place to which she vowed she'd never return.

Woman No. 17 by Edan Lepucki

High in the Hollywood Hills, writer Lady Daniels has decided to take a break from her husband. Left alone with her children, she’s going to need a hand taking care of her young son if she’s ever going to finish her memoir. In response to a Craigslist ad, S arrives, a magnetic young artist who will live in the secluded guest house out back, care for Lady’s toddler, Devin, and keep a watchful eye on her older, teenage son, Seth. S performs her day job beautifully, quickly drawing the entire family into her orbit, and becoming a confidante for Lady.

But in the heat of the summer, S’s connection to Lady’s older son takes a disturbing, and possibly destructive, turn. And as Lady and S move closer to one another, the glossy veneer of Lady’s privileged life begins to crack, threatening to expose old secrets that she has been keeping from her family. Meanwhile, S is protecting secrets of her own, about her real motivation for taking the job. S and Lady are both playing a careful game, and every move they make endangers the things they hold most dear.

Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan

When Nicholas Young hears that his grandmother, Su Yi, is on her deathbed, he rushes to be by her bedside—but he's not alone. The entire Shang-Young clan has convened from all corners of the globe to stake claim on their matriarch’s massive fortune. With each family member vying to inherit Tyersall Park—a trophy estate on 64 prime acres in the heart of Singapore—Nicholas’s childhood home turns into a hotbed of speculation and sabotage. As her relatives fight over heirlooms, Astrid Leong is at the center of her own storm, desperately in love with her old sweetheart Charlie Wu, but tormented by her ex-husband—a man hell bent on destroying Astrid’s reputation and relationship. Meanwhile Kitty Pong, married to China’s second richest man, billionaire Jack Bing, still feels second best next to her new step-daughter, famous fashionista Colette Bing. A sweeping novel that takes us from the elegantly appointed mansions of Manila to the secluded private islands in the Sulu Sea, from a kidnapping at Hong Kong’s most elite private school to a surprise marriage proposal at an Indian palace, caught on camera by the telephoto lenses of paparazzi, Kevin Kwan's hilarious, gloriously wicked new novel reveals the long-buried secrets of Asia's most privileged families and their rich people problems.

The Best of Adam Sharp by Graeme Simsion

Two decades ago, Adam Sharp’s piano playing led him into a passionate relationship with Angelina Brown, an intelligent and strong-willed actress. They had a chance at something more―but Adam didn’t take it.

Now, on the cusp of turning fifty, Adam likes his life. He’s happy with his partner Claire, he excels in music trivia at quiz night at the local pub, he looks after his mother, and he does the occasional consulting job in IT. But he can never quite shake off his nostalgia for what might have been.

And then, out of nowhere, from the other side of the world, Angelina gets in touch. What does she want? Does Adam dare to live dangerously?

Goodnight from London by Jennifer Robson

In the summer of 1940, ambitious young American journalist Ruby Sutton gets her big break: the chance to report on the European war as a staff writer for Picture Weekly newsmagazine in London. She jumps at the chance, for it's an opportunity not only to prove herself, but also to start fresh in a city and country that know nothing of her humble origins. But life in besieged Britain tests Ruby in ways she never imagined.

Although most of Ruby's new colleagues welcome her, a few resent her presence, not only as an American but also as a woman. She is just beginning to find her feet, to feel at home in a country that is so familiar yet so foreign, when the bombs begin to fall.

As the nightly horror of the Blitz stretches unbroken into weeks and months, Ruby must set aside her determination to remain an objective observer. When she loses everything but her life, and must depend upon the kindness of strangers, she learns for the first time the depth and measure of true friendship—and what it is to love a man who is burdened by secrets that aren’t his to share.

It’s Always The Husband by Michele Campbell

Kate, Aubrey, and Jenny first met as college roommates and soon became inseparable, despite being as different as three women can be. Kate was beautiful, wild, wealthy, and damaged. Aubrey, on financial aid, came from a broken home, and wanted more than anything to distance herself from her past. And Jenny was a striver―brilliant, ambitious, and determined to succeed. As an unlikely friendship formed, the three of them swore they would always be there for each other.

But twenty years later, one of them is standing at the edge of a bridge, and someone is urging her to jump.

How did it come to this?

Kate married the gorgeous party boy, Aubrey married up, and Jenny married the boy next door. But how can these three women love and hate each other? Can feelings this strong lead to murder? When one of them dies under mysterious circumstances, will everyone assume, as is often the case, that it’s always the husband?

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Em Muslin's favorite escape...plus a special giveaway

Please join us in welcoming Em Muslin to CLC today. She's here to feature her debut novel, Before You Were Mine, and talk about the books that influenced her. And for one lucky reader, she has a $10 Amazon gift card to give away!

Em Muslin has worked in the film and television industry for over 20 years. She first fell in love with reading and writing after experiencing Judith Kerr's When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit. She hasn't stopped devouring books ever since.

She loves words that capture an experience or emotion in a singular form: her current favourite, describing herself, is nemophilist.

Em's writing career has included developing a script for a stage musical with Tina Turner, and writing a bitter-sweet comedy screenplay, Last Chance Saloon.

Em's writing focuses on the texture of domestic life, relationships, family and the pressures of social convention. Her characters are often fighting to become the hero of their own story, searching for hope, despite the adversities that life inevitably brings.

You can find Em at her website and on Twitter.


Synopsis:
Sometimes hope has a way of changing everything…

Just hours after giving birth, Eli Bell is forced to give up her newborn baby daughter for adoption. Devastated, she tries desperately to rebuild her shattered life.

Then, over thirty years later, Eli catches sight of her daughter. And she knows that she must do everything to find a way back into her life. Even if it means lying…


While her husband Tommy must grow to accept his own part in the events of her early life, he can only try to save her before her obsession with the young woman ruins them both. 

Books that Influenced Me 

The love of stories began, like most people at a very early age. I grew up in a home without a television and surrounded by shelves full of books. I would spend many hours in voluntary solitary confinement curled up under my duvet on whatever adventure I had managed to find at the library that day. Books for me were an escape. They were an extension into a different world. They allowed me to disappear from any difficulties I may be having, and safely hide away with the friends I found on the pages. Books helped me begin to understand the world, my world, and find my identity. They were the lungs that breathed air into my world. They helped me make sense of my place in life and they inspired me, not only to write and read more, but to become the hero of my own story. They taught me to laugh and to love and they taught me to fight when the going got tough. They were the parent that placed their arm around my shoulder and told me never to give up. They were the guiding hand that led me safely down the dark passages when I was too fearful to go alone. Quite simply books moulded me and books made me.

As a young child, I will never forget reading Judith Kerr’s When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit. Set at the beginning of WWII, it is a story about a young girl called Anna coming to terms with her place in a world where Jews don’t belong. As a Jewish girl, it taught me not only the history of the war, but how a young girl can be brave and survive despite the odds. As I grew up, I moved on to Eli Wiesel’s Night and Primo Levi’s If This Is A Man/The Truce; harrowing true recollections of the holocaust. These are challenging books, but I believe essential reading to anyone – no matter their identity - as they help you understand what is at the heart of humanity and what drives people to act as they do.

Obviously, not all my reading was as heavy as these books. However, they were a fascinating (and often painful) introduction to human nature. Novels such as Rohinton Mistry’s A Fine Balance, Anne Tyler’s Dinner at The Homesick Restaurant, Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner, Elizabeth Strout’s Olive Kitteridge, Jeffrey Euginides' Middlesex, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun, Jodi Picoult’s Leaving Time, Julian Barnes’ Levels of Life, Steinbecks’ Pastures of Heaven, Jasmine Warga’s My Heart and Other Black Holes, Joyce Carol Oates’ We Were The Mulvaneys, Anthony Doerr’s All The Light We Cannot See, and many many more, all touched me in different ways. They contain characters who can make you laugh, make you cry, make you think, make you angry. All these characters make you feel something. And that for me is key. These simple words on a page help me emote. They wriggle inside my heart and unpick something that already exists there until my heart bursts with it.

Like music, we can often choose books to suit our mood. It could be the cadence and beauty of the prose, the circumstance the hero finds themselves in, the adversities they face, or simply their sense of humour. These books become our friends.

In my debut novel, Before You Were Mine, the process of writing was similar to how I read. I entered into the psyche of the main character; Eli. I listened to her voice. I thought about what she had to say to me and why. I tried to be her friend and understand her. I hope as readers, you feel able to do the same. That like characters that have put their arms around you, and tell you it is going to be OK, you can do that for her. I hope she touches your heart, like she has touched mine and teaches you something about love, determination and the importance of never losing hope. I hope you become her friend and you in turn hers.

Thanks to Em for visiting with us and sharing a gift card with our readers!

How to win: Use Rafflecopter to enter the giveaway. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us. If you have trouble using Rafflecopter on our blog, enter the giveaway here

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Giveaway ends May 29th at midnight EST.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Book Review: Motherhood Martyrdom and Costco Runs

By Sara Steven

There was a moment several years ago, when I’d struck up a conversation with another mom at the local playground. My towheaded two-year old had been playing nicely with her two young daughters, and we were sharing parenting nostalgia while we watched our children frolic in the early morning sunshine.

All had gone well, until I made the grave mistake of being completely honest with this woman, who didn’t know me, granted. But we’d been conversing about temper tantrums and meltdowns, and I asked her, “Do you ever feel like you want to just go running outside into the street, screaming at the top of your lungs?” She quickly assured me that NO, that had never happened to her, she never felt the need to run away from her precious little angels, and made sure to hastily plop those two angels inside their double-wide stroller, leaving me and my honesty in the dust.

Reading Whitney Dineen’s latest novel about her own experiences with parenthood, womanhood, and all things Costco, reminded me of that moment and several others I’ve had in my parenting journey. The moments where we don’t feel we’ve really earned that Mommy Gold Star. So often, I feel as though we’re told to put on this brace face, to never show the true colors of what’s going on in our lives, especially if it’s not considered “favorable”. The truth is, life isn’t perfect. There is no sugar coating how hard it can be to shape and mold the future. Dineen tells us about it in a way that brings emotional humor and depth to what’s really happening.

In so many of her reflections, it’s apparent how much her daughters have shaped who she is today, even if at times she laments a little on the freedom she used to have before they were in the picture. Such an honest, candid response. Yet, she appreciates the impact they’ve had on her. It’s particularly touching how she goes into detail on the struggles she had to conceive, her own postpartum experiences. A voice for mothers everywhere who often feel alone, fearful of judgement.

And Costco! I laughed hard when I read the moments that happen in Costco, and could totally relate to the bathroom woes she deals with every single time she steps foot inside of a Costco. She has to map out her shopping route in order to incorporate a stop (or two, or three) to the bathroom, because her girls just can’t help themselves. Or the multitude of questions they always ask Dineen, the questions no parent wants to answer. Then there’s the conversations she’ll have with her husband, or her mother. Even the Costco check-out guy. It’s just all so funny!

This is a must-read for any parent- those who have been in the trenches long enough to know when to duck and cover, to those who are just starting out. And while I never saw that mom at the playground ever again (most likely, she was trying to avoid me at all cost), if I were able to see her now, I’d totally give her Motherhood Martyrdom and Costco Runs as a loving gift, from one mom to another.

Thanks to Whitney Dineen for the book in exchange for an honest review.

More by Whitney Dineen:

Friday, May 19, 2017

Book Review: There’s More than One Way Home

By Jami Deise

When my son Alex was two in 1996, we moved into a new neighborhood and made friends with a couple who had a boy Alex’s age and an older daughter. While the girl was bright and bubbly, the boy was barely verbal, lost in his own world. As the kids grew older, my friends searched for answers while their son refused to be potty-trained. One seminar they attended assured them it was nothing – that many younger brothers of verbal sisters let their siblings do the talking for them.

Today, of course, this boy would be diagnosed with ASD before his third birthday, rather than waiting years as my friends did. In the past twenty years, autism diagnoses have exploded. (Although the jury is still out on whether the number of cases is increasing, or whether better diagnostic tools have uncovered cases that in prior years would have been classified as something else. ) And my old neighbor is not the only person I know whose child is on the spectrum. A casual glance at my Facebook feed reveals about five percent of the parents I’m friends with have children with ASD. A few have more than one. A very small percentage are adults who have the condition themselves. And even families who don’t have a member on the spectrum are impacted by it, whether it’s through the debate on vaccines or wondering the best way to accommodate a child’s classmate at a birthday party.

Autism Spectrum Disorder affects everyone.

Author Donna Levin’s latest novel, There’s More than One Way Home, offers a plot built on these issues. San Francisco mom Anna Kagen’s life is centered around her 10-year-old son Jack, diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. Jack attends a small private school for kids with developmental issues, but even there he is isolated and his quirks stick out. When Anna chaperones a field trip to a wooded island, Jack and a few other boys go missing. When they are found, one boy is dead and the others point their fingers at Jack, saying he pushed a child who was taunting him. Anna doesn’t believe them, but Jack doesn’t have the communication abilities to tell her what happened. Quickly, the school and the town turn against them. Before the day is over, Anna and her husband Alex – a district attorney running for re-election – are forced to hand over their son due to a 5150 order. Jack’s never spent a night without his mother. Will Anna be able to discover the truth before the ordeal destroys Jack?

This is a meaty, important plot that will resonate with anyone who loves someone on the spectrum. Kids with ASD are known to “bolt” and disappear. Some of them are so frustrated by their communication struggles that they reach out in ways that seem violent. In 2015, California parents sued a neighbor because their autistic son “attacked” other children in their neighborhood.

Yet Levin treats these serious issues lightly, like her characters are in one of Josie Brown’s Totlandia books rather than dealing with the death of a child. The night of Jack’s hospitalization, Anna immediately falls in love with the therapist on duty, and most of her mental energy is spent on that affair. As such, Anna comes across as self-centered and unsympathetic, shrugging off the pain of the parents of a dead boy and choosing her lover over her son. Anna is a character who should be easy to root for, but she is more childish than her 10-year-old son. Her divorced sister’s love life also plays a distracting role.

The case against Jack unfolds unrealistically, as an assistant DA threatens to file murder one charges against a boy and multiple inconclusive autopsies are done. A stronger edit could have fixed these problems, as well as updated the book. For no apparent reason, it’s set around 2003-04. (Jack’s Asperger’s diagnosis is the first clue; Asperger’s was folded into ASD in 2013.)

There’s more than one way home, and there’s more than one way to tell a story about a child with ASD. As I read the novel, I often thought about how Jodi Picoult would handle the material. Not surprisingly, ripped-from-the-headlines author Picoult published a book in 2010, House Rules, about a mother whose autistic teenager is accused of murder. Picoult handled the plot with the gravitas that the issues required.

With so many families impacted by ASD, many more books will be written about these parents and their children. Some of those will be dramas. Some will be comedies. There’s space on the book shelf for all these genres. But the death of a child is a horrible event, and books that feature this plot need to treat it with the weight it deserves. Had a boy not died, had Jack’s emotional health not been in jeopardy, I might have enjoyed Anna’s snarky observations and obsession over her lover. But with the stakes so high, I did not root for Anna. I judged her.

Thanks to JKS Communications for the book in exchange for an honest review.

More by Donna Levin: