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Out of the Blue Hardcover – February 29, 2000

4.4 out of 5 stars 56 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Romance novels promise happiness only after struggle and heartache, and with her fifth book, Mandel (Change of Heart) delivers as expected, but with a twist. New York private school teacher Anna Marie Bolles has suffered from intermittent bouts of MS for five years. She's constructed her life to accommodate her disease: she lives with her spirited, fiercely loyal mother in Manhattan; she teaches English at the high school where she herself was a student; and she's almost entirely given up the athletics she used to love. But just when it seems MS is all she has, she wheels herself into the American Institute of Photography and meets strikingly handsome 31-year-old Joe Malone, businessman-cum-photographer. The chemistry is so intense that when Anna describes him to her mother later, she can only wail, "He swept me off my feet, Ma... and I wasn't even on my feet." But Anna has not done her emotional homework, and the rest of the narrative is a monotonous will-she-or-won't-she dance as she tries to reconcile her fears about a future with MS with her hopes for a future with Joe. The secondary characters in Anna's life are well drawn, and Mandel treats her readers to enjoyable subplots involving Anna's dastardly father, Joe's neglected father (a pilot who started the charter airline Joe works for), a womanizing headmaster and a glamorous femme fatale. Unfortunately, Joe is so devoted and selfless that he's bland, and much of the narrative tension derives from the progress of Anna's MS rather than of her romance. But if largely predictable, the novel succeeds as a moving and satisfying love story. (Mar.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

In a romance that will entice and satisfy readers of mainstream or "substantial" fiction, Mandel's beautiful heroine, a twenty-nine-year-old teacher, and the dashingly gorgeous hero, an airline pilot-owner and photographer, joined by the cruel presence of multiple sclerosis. Anna Bolles, formerly very athletic, thinks she has come to terms with her MS, but when she visits a photography exhibit she is swept off her feet by Joe Malone and one of his photographs, an epiphany that throws her plans of living quietly with her disease into utter disarray. Mandel masterfully depicts MS and its depredations and brings a cast of secondary characters, which are essential to portraying a convincing relationship, vibrantly to life, from Anna's unforgettably foul-mouthed mother to Joe's dad, who can "fix anything," to the school-faculty bully. Mandel's newest is a robust novel filled with laughter and tears that is ideal for readers who only think they don't like romances. Diana Tixier Herald
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; 1st edition (February 29, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345428900
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345428905
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.5 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,826,833 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on March 1, 2000
Format: Hardcover
It has been five years since multiple sclerosis struck Anna Bolles. Even beyond those periods when Anna requires a wheelchair, her mother and she feel the impact of the disease as part of their daily lives. Not quite the athlete she once was, Anna understood why her long time steady Bobby Zaklow ultimately bailed out of their relationship. Outside of her mother, Anna does not allow anyone, including herself, her students at a private Manhattan high school, nor her peers to get close to her.

Her role as a marvelous watcher ends when she meets Joe Malone at an art show exhibiting his photographs. The amateur photographer enjoys the hobby, but he earns his living as the marketing manager for a small upstate New York air charter service. Anna questions Joe's commitment to living and he inquires why she has given up on relationships. As their feelings turn to love, both of them ponders whether they can entrust their heart, body, and soul to the other for a lifetime.

OUT OF THE BLUE is a typically wonderful Sally Mandel contemporary romance. The character-driven story line centers on relationships. Anna is a witty protagonist who uses humor to self-deprecate while remaining outside the emotional fray of deep interaction. Joe is a fabulous hunk who mentally contends with his own demons involving whether or not he can cope with his beloved's illness. Mama Bolles is an in-your-face secondary player who provides jocularity while helping the audience see inside the lead players. Even the support cast is fully developed as Ms. Mandel shows why she is a New York Times best-selling author.

Harriet Klausner
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Format: Hardcover
I read a review on this book and learned that the main charachter has MS (multiple sclerosis.) That's what caught my attention. I have multiple sclerosis and wanted to read a story that deals with this particular disease. All I can say it that Sally really researched ALL the aspects of MS. She was very knowledgable. The love story between the 2 main characters was excellent. Her fearing having to be taken care of down the road and his utter devotion to her. VERY REALISTIC....alot of thoughts the main character had are very similar to the ones that I have. This is my first book by this author and will definately look for more. Very easy read and held my interest to the end. BRAVO SALLY!
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Format: Hardcover
Anna and Joe meet at an exhibit of amateur photography called "Our Own Backyard". She is drawn to a picture of a bridge which was photographed from underneath so you can see the gridwork. While she is studying it, Joe comes over and comments on her interest in it. It turns out that he was the photographer.
They go for coffee and find they really like each other. But when he asks for her phone number, she refuses to give it to him.
Eventually he manages to find her and their relationship begins but one big problem stands in their way. Anna has multiple schlerosis and will not inflict the burden of her illness on anyone else.
This is a story of a love that can overcome very serious obstacles.
By the way, Anna's mother is a real pip.
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Format: Hardcover
As a polio survivor, I rarely have read a book that speaks truthfully to the fears and insecurities of surviving with a physical handicap. Although MS is not my story, I could easily identify with the feeling of self-consciousness, the fear of rejection, and the longing to be normal. Yes, the author creates incredibly attractive protagonists, but Sally Mandel does understand emotional suffering and is able to lead the reader to optimistic resolution. The process is not easy, yet with acceptance and humor, life becomes so much more worth living.
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Format: Hardcover
Reviews were done above, so I'll just say that I don't regard anything in life as perfect. But this came as close to perfect as it can get. A wonderfully poignant story on a subject, an illness we all shudder about. Yet the author wasn't maudlin or whinning. I only regret that her other works are out of print. Still, I'll try to seek them out. ForestLk@aol.com
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
First I thought the title was appropriate for the story because Anna suddenly found she couldn't run one day, later her attacks of MS symptoms came from Out of the Blue and she met Joe, the photographer on several occasions in New York City by chance, Out of the Blue.

Anna had MS for five years when the story starts and she meets Joe. I enjoyed her humor, found her stress with life from a wheel chair added to her character and not always in a positive manner and her passion for teaching is something I can understand after teaching for more years than I want to admit. Although she was twenty-nine in many ways she was immature and very dependent on her mother. You had to love her rough talking mother that was devoted to helping her daughter and had a heart of gold.

Joe is a successful pilot, part owner in a family air charter service where he works to build the company into a successful charter service. He finds what is missing in his life when he meets Anna and after careful consideration; he makes his move to be part of her life being fully aware of the problems they will face with her MS. I think he faced every one of Anna's MS problems with understanding, which made him pretty special.

I don't expect characters in stories to always be strong but I do appreciate when their human short comings are presented and dealt with in a respectful manner, which was done excellently in Out of the Blue.
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