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on June 29, 2007
After reading The Love Season, I was a little worried about a new book by Hildebrand, but this book blew me away. The story is about 3 women spending the summer together in Nantucket (of course) together to get through some very rough times. The main character, Vicki, has just been diagnosed with lung cancer - it is her idea to spend the summer at her beach house with her two very young children and her sister, Brenda, and best friend, Melanie.

Brenda and Melanie have problems of their own to settle over the summer. Brenda was just fired for dating a student at the college she taught at and sued for throwing a book into a painting. Melanie just found out she was pregnant after months of trying with the husband who has been cheating on her. The girls are all saved by a young college boy home for the summer who baby-sits Vicki's kids and brings normalcy and solace to the women.

If you've ever lost someone to cancer or have cared for someone going through chemo, this is a very emotional and sensitive book to read, it's so dead-on to what you feel and go through when you're involved in something like that.

It was just such a good book, and I would recommend it to anyone.
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on November 5, 2007
The most surprising thing about "Barefoot" was that it had some surprises tucked away for its characters. For a book that seemed to be standard-issue "chick lit" -- which can also translate to "predictable" or "formulaic" -- it was refreshing to not have everything end up as predicted in the opening chapters.

Thankfully, there's also some depth here. The characters explore topics that are pretty weighty for this genre: how to cope with a life-threatening disease, how to deal with infidelity, how to accept one's bad decisions, how to understand the impact of a new child.

A certain sweetness is threaded through this story, even as the women each deal with the ugliness of their realities. It's a sweetness that's mostly delivered by the reliable dose of cuteness, in this book by a combination of cute kids and a cute, nice young man. If you're OK with being manipulated a bit by that literary device, "Barefoot" is a good read indeed.
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on August 17, 2007
Nantucket. Vacation, summer, family, friends, ocean, sand... rejuvenation. At least, that's what it's supposed to be about. For sisters Vicki and Brenda, and their friend Melanie, a small cottage on the island represents each of them a reprieve from their major life crises.

Vicki is facing the terror of a life-threatening illness. With two small sons, she's all too aware of the stakes should she succumb. Brenda's career at a prestigious university has ended in the flames of a passionate fling with a student, even though he was her age. Melanie, after years of in vitro treatments halted by news of her husband's infidelity, has just learned she's pregnant.

Enter Josh Flynn. He and his father are permanent islanders who depend on the tourist season for their living. Tired of working for his dad, Josh takes up an interesting job so he'll have money when he goes back to college in the fall.

Four very different people face four very different turning points while trying to find peace in a small Nantucket cottage. Nobody knows where the summer will lead, but one thing is for sure: when fall arrives, none of them will be the same.

In this fresh take on the "bonding"/"girlfriends" theme, Elin Hilderbrand brings disparate personalities into a seemingly idyllic setting. As with any good bonding story, tensions between the characters begins to build from the beginning. Each person's crisis ebbs and flows like the waves at the beach, in accord with all that's happening with everyone else, leaving the characters dependent upon each other.

Hilderbrand displays a talent for drawing the reader's senses into each scene, allowing vivid mind pictures where the story plays out. The characters' actions and reactions are natural, and the various plot lines are nicely woven throughout.

The end, however, was slightly disappointing with regards to one of the character's choices. A decision was made that felt contrary to what the reader expects of this person, and it pulled me away from the story a bit. Still, the overall story is heartwarming even as it is punchy. If you can deal with a small bit of disappointment in the end, the rest of this novel should be appealing.

Reviewed by Christina Wantz Fixemer
08/17/2007
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on June 17, 2007
Home for the summer, Middlebury College student Josh Flynn meets the two siblings (Brenda and Vicki) and their friend (Melanie) at the Nantucket Airport where he works. The three females and Vicki's two young children will share the small cottage owned by their late aunt while escaping their woes and hoping to regain some equilibrium in their respective lives.

Vicki suffers from lung cancer and will undergo chemotherapy. Brenda recently was fired for breaking the prime directive of college professors when she had an affair with a student; albeit older than her. Finally, Melanie who spent years and tons of money seeking to become pregnant finally succeeded only to ironically learn her spouse is cheating on her. These BAREFOOT females spend the summer of self recrimination with Josh at their side wondering what fall will bring.

This deep character study will hook the audience who will want to know what is happening to each of the women. However, at the same time that contemporary fiction fans will appreciate the drama, only Vicki elicits empathy as she philosophizes about what used to be significant to her but those "Things That No Longer Mattered" once she received the medical verdict; Melanie seems more like a whiner who drove her spouse elsewhere and though realistic Brenda comes across as a hard butt with a chip on her shoulder. Still genre fans will enjoy spending a Nantucket summertime with Elin Hilderbrand's three females.

Harriet Klausner
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on August 18, 2008
This is the first Elin Hilderbrand novel I have read. I just grabbed it on my way out of a store attracted by the "summer read" it appeared to be. I had no idea what it was about, I just took a chance. I am very glad I did since I enjoyed it so much I finished it in two days and started reading it over again! I enjoyed the way the author introduced her characters slowly only giving you enough information you needed for just that moment. Later she opened up more of the past while adding in the what was happening there in Nantucket. I just knew from the beginning that Josh would be the spark that help the women come back from the despair they had been in when they arrived on the island. I loved the fact that Vicki had a normal marriage, not one littered in affairs and severe problems. It made her struggle with cancer so true to life, so real. Brenda's situation was very interesting, her career in academia over and a new one trying to blossom. Melanie's handling of her marriage issues may not have turned out the way many women thought it should, but the way the author described the character Melanie was, it made perfect sense that she would make that decision in the end. I ordered three more of her books on amazon because I could not wait to start reading more.
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on August 18, 2011
I loved the cover of this book and like others read the first few reviews and ordered it. Well, I hated it. The book starts out with two sisters and a friend constantly bickering about nothing. The characters were not likable and I felt sorry for the children not being taken care of by their own mother and aunt. This was my first book by this author and it will certainly be my last. I found myself putting this down and making myself go back and read just to get through it. This was not beach material because it was not fun to read about lung cancer treatments, a broken marriage and a disgraced college professer having an affair with her student. Throw them all into a beach house with a twenty one year old boy and you have total mayhem!
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on July 16, 2007
Barefoot is by far Elin Hilderbrand's best book yet! It moves quickly and is a fantastic summer read. and like her other books, the characters, their dilemmas and flaws stick with you and I find myself continually thinking aobut the summer that the three women experienced like I had heard about it all first hand. The predicaments are real and the women are people you know and it was just great! Definitely pick it up - I loved it!
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on July 28, 2010
Looking for something light and summery, I took the front cover and read the back and thought it'd be perfect for a weekend at the lake. What the back of the book doesn't tell you is that from the very first chapter, the 3 main characters are annoying and never get any better.

There is a martyr sister with lung cancer, a selfish professor sister and a poor-miserable-me friend who escapes because her husband cheated on her then ends up cheating on him. The children are brats, the husbands alternate between completely weak and emotionally detached to practically cave-men in the way they treat their wives. There was not a single character I felt any compassion or sympathy for, including a woman with lung cancer!! At the end of the book, we found out what happened to each and I realized I didn't care how their stories ended.

To be fair, I set the book aside and waited a year to reread it. I thought maybe if I already knew their stories, I'd have more feelings for them. Nope - still hated it.
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This would be a great book to take on holiday. A well written and diverting read that's a cut above the usual.

`Barefoot' is about three women who go away for the summer to Nantucket. They are all in the midst of stressful situations: Vicki has lung cancer, her younger sister Brenda has recently been fired from her professorial position for having a relationship with an (older) student, and newly pregnant Melanie has discovered that her husband is having an affair. The fourth main character in the book is Josh, a 21 year old local boy whom Vicki hires as a babysitter for her two children. Josh's character felt the least real to me. A good looking 21 year old who keeps a journal and enjoys listening to older women talk about their marital problems? Perhaps they do exist, but I've never met one.

But it is the three women who will hold your attention as we gradually find out their back stories and wonder if they can find happiness. Vicki's battle with lung cancer is depicted in such a tense way that at times I was almost afraid to read on - not sure if I could relax when things seemed to be going well and terrified when they didn't seem to be. Brenda was my favorite character - so talented, but also hellbent on making poor decisions for herself, based on emotion. And Melanie's arc is involving too, though I have to say I was interested in her the least.

My one major criticism of the book is that the writing towards the end seemed to change in style. It felt like Elin Hilderbrand had a tight deadline to get this out and rushed the last few chapters. However this is still a very enjoyable book, which held my attention throughout. The perfect addition to your holiday reading (or if you just want to feel like you're on holiday).
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VINE VOICEon October 25, 2007
I really enjoyed this book. The characters were all very likeable and easy to relate to. Nice book for the beach!!
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