I have always felt that Jacquelyn Mitchard is one of the most realistic authors of contemporary fiction writing today. I enjoy reading books that present believable characters facing circumstances beyond their control. The dialogue between her characters is so true-to-life you will feel you're eavesdropping on private conversations. Her novels are consistently intriguing, thought provoking works of art, painted with words. Her most recent novel "Second Nature" does not disappoint in any way.
The story revolves around Sicily Coyne, a young woman, who, at the very start of her teenage years, survives a horrific fire, while watching helplessly as her beloved firefighter father dies. He is consumed by the conflagration, right before her eyes. Sicily is badly disfigured by the fire, and she begins her adolescence without a face. Yet because of a loving aunt, she lives her life. She has a job and she has a boyfriend, but she doesn't have many things we all take for granted every day, like lips or a nose. And still she perseveres.
When you do read it, (and you really should read it as soon as possible - it IS that good! - and everyone is going to be talking about it, so you may as well make sure you're not left out of all the conversation) don't think you'll be reading a chapter a day; sorry, that will not be possible. This story is going to grab you and pull you into it's pages from the very first chapter. You will be absolutely hooked by the first few paragraphs! You will feel the intense heat of the flames, you will be unable to breathe normally, you will find yourself at Sicily's side for every excruciating moment. How is this possible? Ms. Mitchard writes with such raw emotion and haunting description, such well researched accuracy, such unrelenting visual imagery, you will not be able to forget what you've read. What might be extraneous details in another book, become terribly frightening and strangely graceful at the same time. I can guarantee you will be affected by reading how the fire begins, how Sicily's father tries to save a little boy, and what she sees when she looks up at the altar.
I highly recommend this novel. Book clubs will have to schedule 2 or 3 meetings to cover all there is to discuss. Ms. Mitchard has interwoven some of her favorite and flawed Cappadoras into the mix, and they add to the richness and depth of the whole. This is a beautifully told tale, so full of perfect moments throughout, you will go back and read certain paragraphs again and again. Her writing skills are impeccable, her passion for her art is inarguable, and her talent is beyond reproach. Get this book and start reading it immediately. EVERYONE IS GOING TO BE TALKING ABOUT IT!!!!!