- Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: NAL Trade (February 5, 2008)
- ISBN-10: 0451222962
- ASIN: B001P3OM6O
- Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.6 x 7.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 162 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,750,857 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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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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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.
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.
It's a touching story about a woman who for years has been running from the pain she caused herself and loved ones when she meets her self-appointed angel, Jess. There is a subtle tug of war going on between EJ and her angel. Gentle, sunny Jess doesn't seem to stand a chance against the gruff and grumpy EJ but we soon learn about the power of gentleness.
EJ's startled moments of insight to what makes her tick and her self-deprecating assessment of her own little quirks make for much-needed laughter to lighten up the tangible unhappiness of hers. She reminds me of a stroppy stray cat, wary but too curious about where this is going to resist. Her "angel" Jess seems to know exactly that the only way to get EJ to face her personal Gordian knot is to drag her the other way - because Jess knows that EJ's stubbornness will make her turn around the minute she is released.
The author has me captivated as the tightly wound EJ slowly unravels and exposes a deeply hurt soul barely held together by the wall of dejection and callousness she had built around herself. She has me silently urging her on to allow herself to be loved, and she makes me cheer her on when she decides to quit being a victim of what she remembers as her loveless childhood.
I can't even help liking her mother who seems to have failed all along the line. As I get to know her and her panic and fear of not being a fit mother, the circle seems to close for both EJ and myself.
The only downer at the end of the book is cutting short Jess' story. Throughout the book there were hints at a past she doesn't want to deal with. I would have liked her story to either be less dramatic or more extensively told. I felt that comparatively brief summary didn't do her justice.
So if you are not afraid of feeling the pain with EJ and enjoy that warm fuzzy feeling when finally the penny has dropped for everyone, I highly recommend this book. Do not wear mascara when reading this unless you want to look like a racoon!