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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
Four of a Kind: A Novel
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on March 26, 2012
I picked up Four of a Kind because I thought I'd like the friendship theme. I did like the book for that--four women come together for a diversity committee and become friends. The book was about a lot more than just women's friendship. The book took on some heavy issues like race, class, motherhood, parenting and relationships in general, just to name a few. I thought the author handled all of this very well and that the characters were well developed, if a bit cliche at times. In the end, I liked all of these women and was pulling for them in ways I wasn't expecting to. The author's humor is a bit snarky at times, but I loved it.

The poker theme was a little bit overdone for me at times, but it didn't stop me from enjoying the book. However, I really wish that the game explanation and term section of the book had been at the beginning of the book rather than at the end. I don't know much about any kind of poker and this would have really helped me.

Overall, a good book that delved into many issues that had me thinking, and I always love when that happens. This book had me laughing at times, rolling my eyes at others and even tearing up once or twice. I hadn't read anything by Frankel before, but I will certainly be looking into her other books. Four of a Kind would probably make a great choice for book clubs. Members might even decide to play some poker, Four of a Kind (Brooklyn)-style.
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on April 23, 2012
... I followed all right! (there is a list of poker-related jargon as well as different ways of playing at the end of the book!)

The story spans the course of a school year, so there are no dramatic, sudden changes : instead we witness how the four women's lives progress, little by little. There's quite some suspense as to who will end up where!
Each chapter focuses on one character in particular. Playing poker as the thread throughout the book was never overdone or fake.
It's not "friendship at first sight" between the women either - there's a lot of being guarded or wary or cynical - their bond develops progressively, just like in real life.

I won't go into the plot details here as it's been done already. What I liked about this book is the great insight it gave into each of the four women's lives -maybe Carla and Bess in particular.
I found it really interesting to get "behind the scenes" of what it means to be a doctor in a public clinic, what it's like to face (sometimes unreasonably) demanding patients, and all of that in the midst of an economic crisis - bringing up the pressure of making choices you don't really feel like making, because you have a mortgage and children.
Bess'life "from the inside" was just as good. There is no cliché here (no spoiled, rich, unhappy housewife), but the very tangible reality of a generous mother, who cares a lot about others (too much?) but doesn't always stand up for herself. The depiction of her teenage daughter becoming aggressive and distant is very striking.

This may sound like heavy stuff, but the humor throughout and the excitement of the poker lightens the mood - it's actually a pretty light-hearted story overall. I enjoyed it a lot!
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on May 28, 2016
I had thought "four of a kind" referred to women finding that they had something in common; a reason to become friends. This is not about that. These women have nothing in common, and barely tolerate each other. They are supposedly going to do something to help the school that their children attend, but they never really get around to that. They just play poker. There is a lot of description of the poker games themselves. Who cares?
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on May 24, 2016
I have to admit, it took me a few chapters to get into this book. These women are not like any I'm friends with. But, the story was so good, with unexpected pops, that I finally enjoyed a perk of being self-employed and took the afternoon off and read.

The ending had enough surprises to make it worth the extra work I'll have to squeeze in later.
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on December 15, 2016
I enjoyed the way this story was written-different chapters for the different women on the Diversity Committee. The story itself was entertaining and surprising in many ways, but also felt like it lacked something deeper at times.
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on April 19, 2012
I dare you -- no, I QUADRUPLE dare you -- to read the first chapter of Valerie Frankel's wonderful new novel and not keep reading late into the night. This book is so compelling, its heroines so individual and fascinating, that from the first chapter you're hooked on the story and invested in uncovering these four women's stories and finding out what's going to happen to them.

In her novels and memoirs, Valerie Frankel is always funny and observant, but this book takes her talents to a deeper level. It's a romp and it's also so much more, as these women challenge each other to reveal the truth about themselves and to change their lives.

My only warning is not to start the book too late at night: I ended up reading by flashlight until 3 am and the next morning blew off work so I could finish the book, and I haven't done that since I was 12 and discovering literature! And now I'm going to buy copies for all my girlfriends who need more fun and truth in their lives (i.e. all of them).

Love love love this book and you will too.
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on January 12, 2017
Hilarious look at women who take a gamble at gambling! Funny as all get out!
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on April 22, 2016
I was sorry when the book ended. I will miss Alicia, Carla, Bess and Robin, four women whose lives intertwine from an unlikely beginning. This is a quintessential novel about friendship, empowerment and taking risks.
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on May 4, 2016
What a page turner! This is the perfect book to take on vacation or for when you want to give your brain a breather from serious literature. I'm going to suggest a Brooklyn Hold-Em night to my neighborhood circle of friends, just like the gals in this story.
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on September 9, 2012
What a great way to allow the reader to get to know the characters: each character reveals something about herself in a poker game. These ladies play for secrets! They form a committee for their children's school diversity group. Each one comes from a different financial, national, or religious background and yet through the course of time they become closer than they'd ever dreamed. Even closer than with those of their own "class" of people. Bonding friendships are made, believable ones, and each one grows in personality and character development. This author will be getting more of my book orders from now on. She is a delight.
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