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57 of 59 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "A moment of pleasure can lead to a lifetime of pain."
Unger goes off the beaten track in this novel, but not so far as for her work to be unrecognizable. While contemporary, this mystery dredges up a town's past and reawakens dark secrets that have altered the lives of those involved. Not far from New York City, The Hollows enjoys a small town identity, neighbors who have known each other since grade school. The only anomaly...
Published on August 3, 2010 by Luan Gaines

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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Bogged down with too many unnecessary details
Lisa Unger writes of a wonderful little town in New York, whose secrets are deadly. The Hollows, a sleepy town of upright citizens, seems to be plagued with loosing young girls. Two such cases converge one day as a young girl runs away, or is she abducted? This parallels a similar tragedy decades earlier. The whole town is interwoven in each others' lives, so it is no...
Published on September 14, 2010 by C Wahlman


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57 of 59 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "A moment of pleasure can lead to a lifetime of pain.", August 3, 2010
This review is from: Fragile (Jones Cooper) (Hardcover)
Unger goes off the beaten track in this novel, but not so far as for her work to be unrecognizable. While contemporary, this mystery dredges up a town's past and reawakens dark secrets that have altered the lives of those involved. Not far from New York City, The Hollows enjoys a small town identity, neighbors who have known each other since grade school. The only anomaly is the younger generation, infected by the angst of the times and the usual anti-social behaviors of adolescence, once happy and playful children become sulking teenagers, no longer as pliable or as willing to endure their parents' failings or expectations. Unger uses this generation gap to frame her story, as Maggie, a psychologist returned from NYC to marry a high-school football player turned detective, Jones Cooper, the two raising a son, Ricky. Once a sweet, joyful little boy, Ricky has morphed to a sullen teen, resisting his mother's overtures and in constant conflict with his father.

The twist is in the secret history of The Hollows. When Ricky's girlfriend, Charlene, disappears, everyone remembers another disappearance from years ago, the death of a classmate that has reverberated through the lives of the main characters and left many with uneasy consciences. And for all the disaffection of the younger generation, more than one older resident is disturbed when long-buried secrets are unearthed. While the father-son conflict is exacerbated when Jones investigates Charlene's whereabouts, Maggie jumps to her son's defense to avoid concerns about the state of her marriage, counseling patients in an office connected to her home. Much of the drama is stirred up by Maggie's fears and lack of professional boundaries, but there is no shortage of guilty parties as Unger taps into the small town psyche of The Hollows. Sometimes obvious, sometimes clever, Unger indulges in a lot of emotionalism and the dashed expectations of youth. But that is her style- and her charm- as a writer, the murky territory of memory and forgiveness. Luan Gaines/2010.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Bogged down with too many unnecessary details, September 14, 2010
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This review is from: Fragile (Jones Cooper) (Hardcover)
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Lisa Unger writes of a wonderful little town in New York, whose secrets are deadly. The Hollows, a sleepy town of upright citizens, seems to be plagued with loosing young girls. Two such cases converge one day as a young girl runs away, or is she abducted? This parallels a similar tragedy decades earlier. The whole town is interwoven in each others' lives, so it is no surprise that everyone in this small town has everything to do with every event.

The overall story is bogged down by too many instances of intertwined lives, back stories, and little climaxes. Every page has the coming of disaster, but quickly resolves itself. The overall plot of the two abductions fluctuate in an interesting suspense, but this suspense is lost as the story continues to drag on and on and on.

Yet the worst problem with this novel is that Unger assumes you cannot get her point: we are fragile, interconnected, imperfect, yet beautiful. But she continually hits you over the head with everything.

After a while I found myself saying enough already, resolve this. And she eventually does, and the story wraps up perfectly with a perfect, yet fragile bow.

If Unger had assumed more from her audience, trimmed some of the fat and left some things to the readers' imaginations, it would have been more suspenseful novel. It was an interesting story, it just needed better execution.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not pleasurable, December 20, 2010
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This review is from: Fragile (Jones Cooper) (Hardcover)
I was thinking 2-stars for this one but I must be feeling Grinch-y and considering how painful it was to finish this book, it's 1-star for now! Thriller? Mystery? Where? I think everything was laid out and nothing was left to question. There were way, way, WAY too many characters, all living their "perfect" little lives in their "perfect" little town when really they just lived each day, full of angst. None of them were likable and I couldn't feel sorry for any of them. It just dragged and dragged - not a pleasurable read.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not all secrets worth telling, August 14, 2011
By 
Terry Mathews (a small town in east Texas) - See all my reviews
In Lisa Unger's book, "Fragile," everyone has a secret.

Detective Jones Cooper has buried his shame under a layer of crusty bravado. Jones' son, Rick, a moody young man, has been living a double life that includes clandestine trips from his home in The Hollows to nearby New York City with his girlfriend, Charlene. Jones' wife, Maggie, is a secret keeper by profession. As a psychologist, it's her job to carry her patients' burdens. She is especially concerned about Marshall Crosby, a brilliant but disturbed young man who seems very close to coming undone.

Maggie's mother, Elizabeth Monroe, former high school principal, has kept quiet about a girl gone missing decades ago. When Charlene disappears from The Hollows, everyone's past gets scrutinized.

Everything about the girl gone missing - the red herrings and chapter-ending clues - felt contrived, jaded and lifeless.

The relationship between Jones and Maggie, while strong, has never been 100 percent honest. The couple has a hard time relating to their teenage son, who is fiercely protective of his troubled girlfriend, much to his parents' chagrin. The mother-daughter relationships, between Maggie and Elizabeth and Charlene and her mother, Melody, are fraught with land mines just waiting to explode.

Marshall's troubled relationship with an abusive father and his inability to relate to the outside world is a foreshadowing of much deeper issues that manifest themselves in a most disturbing way.

This was my first book by Unger and it will probably be my last, as the plot, characters and action felt old, stale and rehashed. I'm looking for fresh stories with original characters not recycled from every other best seller on the shelf. The reading public deserves more than leftovers like this.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A SENSITIVE, PENETRATING STORY OF COMPLEX PEOPLE, August 12, 2010
This review is from: Fragile (Jones Cooper) (Hardcover)
From "When Jones Cooper was younger, he didn't believe in mistakes" to 323 pages later and "As she told them all about her buried memory, she felt an awe at how all their separate lives were twisted and tangled, growing over an around one another...,"
FRAGILE enchants. It is a sensitive, penetrating story of complex people burdened by the past.

Jones, a cop,lives with his psychologist wife, Maggie, and rebellious teenage son, Ricky, in The Hollows, a small insular town outside of New York City. It's the kind of place that Maggie had once found dull, constraining, but now finds comforting as people know each other, and seemingly care for one another. It seems that Ricky might benefit from some observation as he's a punk kid with a silver hoop in his nose, sometimes referred to as "Johnny Rotten" by his dad. Try as Maggie may she can't seem to reach Ricky any more but loves him with all her heart, remembering "...how pure and unblemished, how soft and pink his baby skin had been."

Ricky is going with Charlene, an undesirable companion in the eyes of Maggie and Jones. She is "a little girl lost hiding behind black eyeliner and vamp red lipstick." However, Maggie does her best to understand, to accept Charlene because she loves Ricky.

However, understanding and acceptance go out the window when Charlene vanishes. To some her disappearance is a frightening reminder of a teenager who was abducted and murdered years ago when Maggie herself was a teenager. Jones is leading the investigation in efforts to find Charlene and, shocking to Maggie, begins to look very closely at their son. A once tranquil community is once again shattered by a mysterious disappearance.

In a desperate attempt to prove Ricky innocent of any wrongdoing Maggie begins an investigation of her own and makes a shocking discovery.

No novice at creating suspenseful, gripping narratives Lisa Unger has once again penned a stay-up-all-night story.

Enjoy!

- Gail Cooke
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Overworked plot, too many unnecessary details, November 30, 2010
By 
Sara M. Rath (Spring Green, WI USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Fragile (Jones Cooper) (Hardcover)
I wanted to like this book; I purchased it to read during a flight to Colorado (I always get a good, new book when I fly these days) but it was clotted with characters and flashbacks and extraneous details. I had to keep flipping back to see who was who -- good thing I hadn't downloaded it on my Kindle! There also seems to be something going on these days in novels when the POV comes from many different characters -- authors think it's cute to begin a chapter and go on for pages w/o identifying who's speaking. This becomes annoying very fast. Also felt the tie-in with the exterminator who wants to write a novel about a girl who disappeared when he was young was terribly contrived. His only real reason for inclusion was the removal of the raccoons in the attic.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Too many characters, too litle plot, February 27, 2011
By 
Danielle Rice (Warrenton, VA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Fragile (Jones Cooper) (Hardcover)
The premise sounded so interesting. There were just too many characters - all a bit stereotyped, all unlikeable. It was hard to keep track and really hard to care about keeping track. I found myself flipping back to remind myself who was who and flipping ahead to see if there was any point to reading the rest of the book. I was about half way through when I decided it was just too painfully slow to continue.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars good but not amazing, January 10, 2011
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This review is from: Fragile (Jones Cooper) (Hardcover)
Sorry about my title--I couldn't think of any other way to put it. This novel aspires to be more than just genre fiction, so I guess I'm holding it to higher standards. But even as a mystery, it was only okay. There were things I liked about it. One of them was the interlace style that other readers seemed to find annoying. I liked that destabilizing shiftiness, the way the past intruded on the present. I didn't find it hard to follow at all. By the time things get really shifty, the story's almost over--by then, the reader should be in a more accommodating mood, it seems to me. The writing was good, which is to say, it didn't bother me. I'm pretty picky about that. I don't like books that are over-written, either--this one hit the right tone and style, I think. Other things I liked:

The Hollows--a mythic place, close to but far from the big city (read: the real, unmythic world). Everyone there has only one child! I don't know if anyone else noticed this, but it really stuck out to me. There are no siblings in the Hollows, except for the villain and his sister, who only appears at the end. I guess the only child motif is supposed to accentuate the fragility of the family itself. Lose that child, and you're not a family--just a couple. The Hollows is a state of mind more than an actual place--like the Magic Mountain, with less interesting people. The hollowed-out place in our minds and memories where we hide things.

The characters--I found them mostly realistic, their reactions plausible. I didn't especially like Maggie or her husband, but the teenagers sprang to life for me...except that the author doesn't seem to know much about Facebook. People write on Walls, not "Message Boards." Not a big deal.

Things I liked less:

The old mystery seemed unoriginal. And implausible, too. She didn't make it work for me, I guess. And the straw man--the guy who died in prison--was really a cheap way out of the problem, plot-wise. No spoilers, but she could have done better here.

Maggie and her husband. Both the kind of parents I'd avoid at the PTA. If, you know, I belonged to the PTA.

The social and economic structure of the town seemed absurd. Other readers have mentioned this. If it's mythic, make it mythic. If it's supposed to seem real, make it real. Maybe that was the point, but it didn't work.

Overall, it was an entertaining read. But it didn't make me think, and I doubt I'll remember much about it a year from now.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Flat and irritating, November 11, 2011
I really, really wanted to like this book, mainly because I'm a fan of Tess Gerritson and Tami Hoag and I was looking for a similar type of book written by a different author to add to my reading list (especially when I've read all the Gerritsen/Hoag books that are out there). Unfortunately, this is the one and only book I will ever read by Lisa Unger and I couldn't even get through it. For all intents and purposes, the story ended about 30 pages before it actually ended. The last 30 pages are utterly pointless and boring. The story is about a girl who was kidnapped and the search to find her. Without giving away the story, there's a part on a boat where a few people confront each other and I had to ask myself after reading it "what the hell just happened" and I was too annoyed and bored to go back and reread it so I could figure out what had happened - I simply didn't care. I agree with the other reviewers who have said Ms. Unger's writing is cliched - that's certainly accurate. There are two complete storylines brought in to the mix and when that happens, I always get the feeling that an author does not have enough content for one story. I believe the story could have been better if Ms. Unger gave us details about what the kidnapped girl was going through..she never does that. She's gone in one second and we don't know much about her other than through other people. Most of the adults in this story are dreadful - I just didn't care about any of the characters at all. I can't say I wasn't interested in the story but as the book went along I saw a lot of repetition and thought it felt like Ms. Unger was struggling to make the 400+ pages that was probably promised to the publisher. I stopped reading 10 pages before the end..I just couldn't do it. I'll stick with Gerritsen and Hoag.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A past that repeats itself, August 12, 2010
This review is from: Fragile (Jones Cooper) (Hardcover)
The story takes place in a small town called The Hollows. The author moves at a slower pace to create the personalities of the characters so that the reader can keep track of them all. There are several generations that are reviewed and highlighted in the book. Maggie and her husband Jones Cooper manage their relationship, as well as make a stable home for their son Ricky. Ricky's girlfriend Charlene later disappears, and it serves to stir up memories of a prior disappearance, linking the characters to the unsolved past. Maggie is torn between defending the state of her marriage or protecting her son from the world. She eventually does the right thing, but not without a journey on all sides.

The characters lives are exposed and pitted against each other throughout the story. As a therapist in the town, Maggie gets to delve into the minds of those coming to terms with the events that most affect their lives. The characters carry the burdens of their past memories, and the author gives the reader vital clues to piecing together what happened within both underlying stories of mystery and disappearance of the two girls in town. The juxtaposition of the past and present bring the character together, while at the same time serve as a wedge to further drive them apart.

This book is full of emotion and upheaval for the characters and for the supporting cast of people who live in the fictional town. The reader will easily be able to follow the twists and cues from the past that will make for a great ending for this story. I recommend the book for all audiences and any age.
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Fragile (Jones Cooper)
Fragile (Jones Cooper) by Lisa Unger (Paperback - May 17, 2011)
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