From Publishers Weekly
Like a milder Northern cousin of Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood
, Rice's latest (following Dance with Me
) celebrates the near mystical persistence of female bonds. While summering in the seaside town of Hubbard's Point, Conn., Emma Lincoln, Stevie Moore and Maddie Kilvert, the titular beach girls, were inseparable, but as adults, they've drifted apart. Stevie lives like a hermit in Hubbard's Point, unaware that her old friend Emma died in a car crash, leaving behind a husband, a child and secrets. When widower Jack brings his daughter, Nell, to the Point, Nell searches out her last link to her mother: Stevie. A bestselling children's author, Stevie is drawn to Nell and her attractive dad, but the protagonists must struggle with doubts and fears before they can consider a future together. This book is more sentimental and less suspenseful than Rice's previous novels, and fans of her earlier book, The Perfect Summer
, may find the premise—a spouse who dies suddenly, with secrets that leave family in disarray—overly familiar. Fortunately, Rice's gorgeous descriptions and sensitive characterizations compensate for those flaws. Few writers evoke summer's translucent days so effortlessly, or better capture the bittersweet ties of family love.
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Rice returns to her quintessential beach community of Hubbard's Point, Connecticut, and three childhood girlfriends now grown up. Stevie, Emma, and Maddie were inseparable and vowed to always be friends, but life and love intruded. Stevie has become a recluse still living in her father's house at the beach, but her isolation is shattered when Emma dies in a car crash and her nine-year-old daughter, Nell, comes to Stevie in search of lost female influences, including that of Maddie, with whom she was once close. The healing powers of the beautiful beach, and of friendship, work their magic on Nell and Stevie as both influence each other lives and as Nell's father struggles with his conflicting emotions over his wife's death. Rice's characters forge new connections in this beautiful and tender love story set against an idyllic backdrop of sand and surf and dealing with many facets of love. Another winner for Rice, who breathes life into poignant tales not only about love but also about forgiveness. Patty EngelmannCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved