Laurel-Rain Snow is one of my favorite authors because her characters are such real people; they could be your neighbors, my neighbors...or even our relatives. Although her books are similar in theme--mostly about women struggling to overcome unhappy childhoods who come of age during the "hippie" generation--each has a stellar cast of main and supporting characters who stir the emotions.
Chasing Stardust opens with a flash-forward prologue depicting Merrilee Hennessy as a grandmother going to bat for her granddaughter, which is something no one did for her when she was young.
Through the period of this book, Merrilee develops into a strong, compassionate woman despite seemingly insurmountable obstacles that life throws her way. Always somewhat of a romantic dreamer when it comes to male relationships, the young girl learns the hard way, making some mistakes repeatedly...but eventually triumphing through her innate strength, determination and the help of good, caring friends.
Author Snow carries the character through the book in such a realistic manner, I feel like I know Merrilee. I cried when she got pregnant and I cared deeply about her raising a child alone. I rejoiced at each of her triumphs--triumphs that are slow in coming--but as Merrilee's character matures and she enters the workforce, her life gradually gets better.
Although Merrilee learns to control her own actions and reactions, her son gives her a great deal of trouble throughout the book, making life miserable for her and her granddaughter Brandi...but enough! If I tell anymore, I'll give away too much of the plot. But here are a few questions that will be answered in this true-to-life novel:
How does Merrilee cope while raising her son alone? And when she eventually marries, what happens to that relationship? What are her parents' shortcomings that they can't help her more? And when she's doing well financially, what happens when her long-estranged sister comes back into her life? Why does she come back? And where was her son's natural father during all this time?
Laurel Rain Snow answers all those questions in such well-developed, realistic scenes that the story moves along in a smooth, yet dramatic flow. While in some books the plot is gripping, in Chasing Stardust it is Merrilee Hennessy who is gripping, giving the book an easier, more natural flow. This is a rewarding reading pleasure with a satisfying ending that brings the troubled young girl's life full circle.
Now that I have followed Merrilee and Brandi into happier straits and can breathe a sigh of relief, I can't wait to read the only one of Snow's books that I haven't read: Embrace the Whirlwind.
Endnote: If you would like to sample this author's style before you splurge on her books, try her Amazon Short story, Family Values. At the small price of forty-nine cents each, Amazon Shorts are a wonderful bargain. I'm certain you will be hooked on Laurel Rain Snow, as I am. She has a deep passion for her characters that probably comes from her long career as a social worker in Central California.
Review by Betty Dravis, January, 2010 author of Dream Reachers (with Chase Von)