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A Little Ray of Sunshine Paperback – Bargain Price, February 5, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Rich takes a turn toward the serious in a romance primarily focused on a mother-daughter relationship. For six years, Emmy James has lived out of her Airstream, working odd jobs until she gets the urge to move on. Then she meets Jess, a young woman who declares herself Emmy's angel, sent to help her with her problems. At the same time, Digs, who would be her brother-in-law if Emmy hadn't left his brother Luke, shows up, bearing disturbing news: his father, Danny, and Emmy's mother, Lilly, are getting married. Lilly is vain, cruel, narcissistic and destructive-all the things Danny is not. Emmy is determined to stay away, but her angel knows best, and soon the Airsteam is headed home. While the story of Emmy's lost love is engaging, the heart of the story has to do with the transformation Emmy sees-but doesn't trust-in her mother. The process is painful and sometimes funny, and though the characters skate right to the edge of believability, the romance is very real. A thoughtful, well told story with an unusual twist.
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About the Author
Lani Diane Rich lives with her husband and children. Author website: lanidianerich.com.
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A fun and poignant read, I really enjoyed this book. There were a lot of questions in my mind while I was reading and I so am that the author effectively resolved all the loose ends by the end of the book.
If you pick up this book thinking you will be reading a typical "Chick Lit" this is not that type of story. The author provides readers with a story full of humorous scenes and colorful imagery, as well as sadness and pain. I found myself laughing and crying at times.
EJ had realistic issues in self-perception and in obstacles to change. I related to her struggle to become a better person.
For example, at one point she dithered about doing something that she deemed more sentimental than she wanted to be, but she knew it would be appreciated by the person she would do it for. In the end she decided to do it because doing it would be something that would help her reach her goals of change, which was a selfish reason, but at least she would do it. I totally do that sometimes.
I liked Jess's character. I felt like her breakdown and subsequent recovery were a little out there. I was a little annoyed that she and Digs didn't end up together. I mean, sure, having everyone end with a fairytale ending isn't realistic, but I felt like everyone else got a fairytale ending that wasn't all that realistic anyway, and she just got left out.
I liked Lilly. She made a valiant effort to repair her relationship with her daughter. It seemed like she still had unresolved issues though (was she anorexic?).
Content: There was profanity sprinkled throughout the book, including a number of F-bombs. Unmarried couples lived together. There was a sex scene between and unmarried man and woman that was not very graphic.
I loved this book. Loved it. Wish I could give it more than five stars.
EJ is hard to like at first. She's jaded and sarcastic, but she's also funny and compassionate and (one senses) is in her heart of hearts looking for the tiniest opening to go back and recover the unrecoverable. For the past six years, she's been living a nomadic life out of her Airstream RV, hopping from one minimum wage job to another in a quest to outrun her self-broken heart. She's working at a gas station/convenience store in New Jersey when the book opens. One night a woman named Jess breaks down. EJ doesn't usually like to get involved. She's sort of shamed into helping by another (rather mysterious) customer. EJ isn't thrilled when Jess claims to be an angel sent to help her. When EJ learns that her estranged mother is planning to marry for the eighth time--and that the groom is EJ's substitute dad (and the father of the love of her life), she's flabbergasted but still doesn't plan on going home to Oregon for the occasion. So, Jess basically hijacks the Airstream while EJ's asleep.
Of course, EJ doesn't really have to go along with Jess scheme, but she does. Not because of her mom, with whom she has major issues, but because of Luke. He and EJ grew up together, fell in love, and got engaged. Then, for reasons I never did quite grasp, though her mom's bad behavior is in the mix somewhere, EJ abandoned him. She tells herself that going back home will give Luke closure, but the reader knows she wants Luke back. That said, the book isn't a romance. It's character driven and focuses on EJ's relationship with her mother and with her own battered self-image.
All of the characters in A LITTLE RAY OF SUNSHINE are hysterical and so imperfect you could strangle them--if you weren't laughing so hard.
Each one of them grows in important ways, yet they all remain flawed. There are no huge epiphanies. Just human beings struggling to do better and make amends. And when the truth about Jess comes out, all the drama and personal nonsense falls by the wayside as EJ and her entire patchwork family rally around the would-be angel. I would love to know more about what happens to Jess. I got so attached to her.
As I said, the EJ-Luke romance is not central to the novel. It is, however, pivotal. It isn't a matter of love. But instead, is love enough without trust? And, once lost, can trust ever truly be rebuilt? The final answer to that question kept me on the edge of my seat until almost the last scene.
A LITTLE RAY OF SUNSHINE is a warm, funny, emotional book. I can't recommend it highly enough.
Yes, there is a love story, but the book is so much more than that. Mother/daughter relationship, redemption, forgiveness, tragedy...all wrapped up in a neatly tied-up story.
I love the humor and sarcasm of EJ, the main character. The story is told in the first person, through EJ's point of view. She is sharp, witty, angry, sensitive and the Queen of Sarcasm. I loved her from the first paragraph.
Despite the reader only getting one point of view to the story, through EJ's eyes, Rich did an amazing job of giving the other characters enough dimension to make them as likeable as EJ herself.
Do youself a favor, don't pass this one up!