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State of the Union

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Hannah Buchan thinks herself ordinary. She is not the revolutionary child that her painter mother and famous radical father had hoped for. Raised in the creative chaos of 1960s America, Hannah vows to reject her parents' liberal lifestyle, and settles instead for typical family life in a nondescript corner of Maine. But normality isn't quite what Hannah imagined it would to Hannah Buchan thinks herself ordinary. She is not the revolutionary child that her painter mother and famous radical father had hoped for. Raised in the creative chaos of 1960s America, Hannah vows to reject her parents' liberal lifestyle, and settles instead for typical family life in a nondescript corner of Maine. But normality isn't quite what Hannah imagined it would to be, and try as she might to fight it, the urge to rebel against the things that hem her in grows ever stronger. Eventually, a series of encounters puts Hannah in an exhilarating but dangerous position - one in which she never thought she would find herself. For decades, this one transgression in an otherwise faultless life lies buried deep in the past, all but forgotten - until a turn of fate brings it crashing back into the limelight. As her secret emerges, Hannah's life goes into freefall and she is left struggling against the force of the past.


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Hannah Buchan thinks herself ordinary. She is not the revolutionary child that her painter mother and famous radical father had hoped for. Raised in the creative chaos of 1960s America, Hannah vows to reject her parents' liberal lifestyle, and settles instead for typical family life in a nondescript corner of Maine. But normality isn't quite what Hannah imagined it would to Hannah Buchan thinks herself ordinary. She is not the revolutionary child that her painter mother and famous radical father had hoped for. Raised in the creative chaos of 1960s America, Hannah vows to reject her parents' liberal lifestyle, and settles instead for typical family life in a nondescript corner of Maine. But normality isn't quite what Hannah imagined it would to be, and try as she might to fight it, the urge to rebel against the things that hem her in grows ever stronger. Eventually, a series of encounters puts Hannah in an exhilarating but dangerous position - one in which she never thought she would find herself. For decades, this one transgression in an otherwise faultless life lies buried deep in the past, all but forgotten - until a turn of fate brings it crashing back into the limelight. As her secret emerges, Hannah's life goes into freefall and she is left struggling against the force of the past.

30 review for State of the Union

  1. 4 out of 5

    Tania

    But what's wrong with doubt? How can anyone hold a black-and-white view of things when, in the end, most human interaction is so profoundly grey? Those closest to us do things that are baffling. We, in turn, do things we don't totally comprehend. Because we never really understand others, let alone ourselves. 3.5 stars. This was my first Douglas Kennedy and I really enjoyed it. Although I found the plot entertaining and interesting, what hooked me was his insightful descriptions of the complex na But what's wrong with doubt? How can anyone hold a black-and-white view of things when, in the end, most human interaction is so profoundly grey? Those closest to us do things that are baffling. We, in turn, do things we don't totally comprehend. Because we never really understand others, let alone ourselves. 3.5 stars. This was my first Douglas Kennedy and I really enjoyed it. Although I found the plot entertaining and interesting, what hooked me was his insightful descriptions of the complex nature of the relationships in a family. I could identify with so much of what he wrote, and it's a reminder that relationships are never perfect, even with those you love most. Mortality, change and ambiguity are other themes that feature throughout the novel . My only problem with the State of the union is that Hannah reacted quite out of character towards the end of the book. (view spoiler)[I felt she was so preoccupied with her past coming back to haunt her, that she almost forgot about her daughter's dissapearance. For me this just didn't fit in with the rest of her personality (hide spoiler)] That said, I'd still recommend this to anyone looking for a thought provoking easy read. The story: Hannah Buchan leads an orderly life in a small town in Maine - a schoolteacher, married to a doctor, with two grown up children. However, her past conceals a dark secret. Thirty years ago she had a brief, dangerous fling with Tobias Judson, a high profile student activist. But when Tobias suddenly pops up out of nowhere with a book about his radical years, her life goes into free-fall. And before she knows it, Hannah discovers that a long-ago transgression is never really forgotten.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Nicandnaomi Hood

    I loved this book! Kennedy writes with such a smooth style after around the first 50 pages when the story is set in my head I found this impossible to put down. His writing as a woman in the first person is masterfully done. An artist of his time.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    Although not as compelling as some of his other novels, State of the Union is nonetheless a good airplane read. The easy writing style makes it a breeze to tune out the high pitched whine of the safety instructions and to ignore your neighbour's plump elbow embedded between your fourth and fifth ribs. The plot falls neatly into two divisions. The first comprises Hannah, the main character's university years and her decision not to take a gap year in Paris, but, instead, to stay at home to safegua Although not as compelling as some of his other novels, State of the Union is nonetheless a good airplane read. The easy writing style makes it a breeze to tune out the high pitched whine of the safety instructions and to ignore your neighbour's plump elbow embedded between your fourth and fifth ribs. The plot falls neatly into two divisions. The first comprises Hannah, the main character's university years and her decision not to take a gap year in Paris, but, instead, to stay at home to safeguard her relationship with her solid, conservative aspiring doctor boyfriend. Naturally (this being Douglas Kennedy), Hannah has issues with her artist mother, who is probably a little over the top unlikeable, but dotes on her cheating professor father who happens to be a charismatic but aging radical. Hannah's subsequent marriage to the somewhat dull, but salt of the earth Dan sets the tone for the tepid, safe and risk free life she is attracted to. Her life continues in a predictably dull fashion except for one small error of judgement that happens in the early days of her marriage, but which she manages to keep secret and subsequently put out of her mind entirely. The second half of the plot takes place thirty years later when the repercussions of her lapse suddenly strike home. The timing couldn't be worse as she is already struggling to deal with a critical situation within her family. A really hard lesson hits her with the weight of a Greek Tragedy as she realises that no matter how hard you try to play it safe in life, you can't control the actions of your loved ones, and if they don't play it safe, you too get injured when the resulting emotional bomb explodes. On the positive side, Douglas Kennedy is realistic about certain aspects of family relationships. Mothers might love their children, but they don't always like them, especially when their personalities clash discordantly with their own. On the negative side, some of his characters are really unrealistic. Hannah's mother and her best friend Margy, for example, seem too independent and and brash-mouthed for the early 70's. Yes, there were independent and outspoken women then, but it seems too much of a set-up to have the dull Hannah framed by two of them. This book is perfect for anyone who needs a bit of light relief, but, at the horrifying risk of sounding sexist, I can't see it appealing to a wide male audience. (Well maybe if you move in a circle of sensitive, new age guys connected with their feminine side.) But that is not surprising as the author is primarily concerned with the inner life of women and their responses to complex family relationships. It is probably best to space Kennedy's novels out as there are only so many dysfunction families one can deal with in a short space of time, especially if one includes one's own!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Gary Thomas

    Douglas Kennedy never disappoints. This wasn't my favorite of his novels; in fact, if you want to get to know his work, I'd start with just about any other. But the pages always turn fast, the characters are consistently strong, and he's the perfect mix between literary and commercial fiction, leaning toward literary (which I like). It says something significant when I still give my least favorite novel of his five stars. One big disappointment: it gets so tiring to read portrayals of conservativ Douglas Kennedy never disappoints. This wasn't my favorite of his novels; in fact, if you want to get to know his work, I'd start with just about any other. But the pages always turn fast, the characters are consistently strong, and he's the perfect mix between literary and commercial fiction, leaning toward literary (which I like). It says something significant when I still give my least favorite novel of his five stars. One big disappointment: it gets so tiring to read portrayals of conservative Christians as hypocritical, soul-less monsters. Why don't writers understand that this has been so over-done that it's tantamount to ending the novel with "And they lived happily ever after"? And those of us who know Christians as some of the most impressive people we've ever met get so weary of writers describing Christian monsters we've never run across in real life--but which account for 99% of Christian portrayals in novels, movies, and television shows. Douglas Kennedy, you're better than this! You are so gifted in creating characters--why slip into conventional cliché?

  5. 5 out of 5

    KarenV

    I was a bit torn between giving this 3 or 4 stars. I really wanted to give it 3.5 and, as I really enjoyed the second half of the book, I generously upped it to 4. The first half of this book is set in the late Sixties, early Seventies and the second half is set in the early part of this century. I have to admit, I found the first half a little slow going and I wasn't really that bothered about the characters. As soon as the story changed to the early 2000s, I started enjoying it a lot more and f I was a bit torn between giving this 3 or 4 stars. I really wanted to give it 3.5 and, as I really enjoyed the second half of the book, I generously upped it to 4. The first half of this book is set in the late Sixties, early Seventies and the second half is set in the early part of this century. I have to admit, I found the first half a little slow going and I wasn't really that bothered about the characters. As soon as the story changed to the early 2000s, I started enjoying it a lot more and found it hard to put it down, so I ended up finishing it over a weekend. Not sure whether I would be too bothered searching out anything else by this author, but it was a reasonable read and worth persevering to find out how everything turned out in the end.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Dem

    review to follow

  7. 4 out of 5

    Debi Lodge

    The heroine is a dreadful narcissist and I was unable to feel any sympathy for her. A great example of a male author being unable to write in the female first person.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Swissmiss

    Finally! After all that c*** I've been reading, a book I really enjoyed. Although once again, the cover blurb is highly misleading: it makes it sound like the entire book revolves around one particular incident and that it also has something to do with the terror attacks on 9/11. Well, it doesn't. But that's fine by me, because the actual point of the book is much more interesting, I think. It's about a woman who struggles with the legacies of her parents, both personally and professionally, and Finally! After all that c*** I've been reading, a book I really enjoyed. Although once again, the cover blurb is highly misleading: it makes it sound like the entire book revolves around one particular incident and that it also has something to do with the terror attacks on 9/11. Well, it doesn't. But that's fine by me, because the actual point of the book is much more interesting, I think. It's about a woman who struggles with the legacies of her parents, both personally and professionally, and with trying to find a balance between self-realization, fitting in with society, and doing what she feels is right. I know, it sounds really cheesy and dumb, but it's a good story and I actually tried to find time to read it. The supporting characters are all well-rounded and engaging, and there was no part where I felt things were dragging or that I wanted to skip over.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jill

    Interesting insight into American politics in the '60s and '70s against the interplay of family and marital relationships. The main character is typical of the 'good' girl doing the right thing being led astray and how this comes back to haunt her 30 years on. Douglas Kennedy again shows great insight into the feminine psyche.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Gabriela

    It was an amazing book! I really enjoyed it and recommend it to everyone!!! So well written - kept me reading until 3am! Lovely! READ IT!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Budur

    All the men in this novel are assholes.. I cried a lot.. Truly amazing and realistic one.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Lippes

    Luckily the German title of the book totally missleads! I expected it to be another boring romantic novel like one of these Nicholas Sparks books. My reason to read it though was that I wanted to get it off my bookshelf and later on distribute it among one of those free libraries - and aside of all that you DO want to read a weak book from time to time, don't you? But I was taken by surprise - the romantic aspect was quickly resolved and I learned it was much more a description of todays (well not Luckily the German title of the book totally missleads! I expected it to be another boring romantic novel like one of these Nicholas Sparks books. My reason to read it though was that I wanted to get it off my bookshelf and later on distribute it among one of those free libraries - and aside of all that you DO want to read a weak book from time to time, don't you? But I was taken by surprise - the romantic aspect was quickly resolved and I learned it was much more a description of todays (well not today - but some ten years ago. A time that nowadays may even seem as some "good old days") Amercian society. I learned that the original title is "State of the Union" which hits the topic far better than the German "In a single night" - so at least one star goes because of the bad management of the German publisher seeking for marketing rather than for a proper translation! The book itself? Well it did find its way in one of those libraries - I enjoyed reading it and it was the right book at the right time - but not something I would truely recommend or see as a favourite. Well written for the mass market and a fair three star book. Simple as that!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Mandy

    This book kept me company on a night I couldn't sleep. It's a brick of a book, and could do with cutting (I don't need to know every thought that passes through Hannah's mind, really, I don't) and lightening up - it's all so serious, a life with no fun in it ever. But is it quite a complelling read. Luckily large chunks of introspection can quite safely be skipped, so I didn't actually read all this book, I speed read large parts until I came across something happening again. This book is about This book kept me company on a night I couldn't sleep. It's a brick of a book, and could do with cutting (I don't need to know every thought that passes through Hannah's mind, really, I don't) and lightening up - it's all so serious, a life with no fun in it ever. But is it quite a complelling read. Luckily large chunks of introspection can quite safely be skipped, so I didn't actually read all this book, I speed read large parts until I came across something happening again. This book is about a woman who did something stupid as a young mum and suffers the consequences 30 years later at exactly at the same time as her life was turning inside out for other non related reasons. Although all the bad things happening to Hannah at the same time were just too conincidental, I know from experience as someone whose own life turned inside out recently, that people who purport to love you really can jump in to kick you when you are down. The second part of the book was much better than the first. I liked the thinking on marriage, that a long stable marriage was worth having, even if the first fizzle of passionate love had drizzled out when the kids and responsibilities came along. Of course this book ended with too many people apologising to Hannah for their actions during her crisis and making attempts to rebuild their relationships. My experience is that people often don't admit that what they did was wrong, they just brush it under the carpet and pretend that it did't happen, and the relationship ends, or limps along as best as a relationship can once the underlying trust that this person would be in your corner in a your hour of need is broken. Huh. Now I know that I am getting old. I have just read to page 174 of this book without recognising that I read the book before. Hannah was driving me crazy though, every action she takes being blamed on her circumstances instead, there is no sparkle of naughtiness in her. Thanks for the review younger me, with your comments, I can safely stop reading and move on to something more fun. I am docking a star though, I must have been more generous in my rating when I was younger!

  14. 5 out of 5

    julie

    i've been on a douglas kennedy reading jag of late. this is my fourth in as many weeks. it was the fastest read for me, mostly because i couldn't put it down. i think it moved me the most as well, i was actually in tears at the end. kennedy can really get inside the head of a woman (tho' he did put some strange and seemingly out-of-character behavior in Hannah during her ordeal). and he is a master at painting characters who are full of doubts and regrets for the choices they've made and fears t i've been on a douglas kennedy reading jag of late. this is my fourth in as many weeks. it was the fastest read for me, mostly because i couldn't put it down. i think it moved me the most as well, i was actually in tears at the end. kennedy can really get inside the head of a woman (tho' he did put some strange and seemingly out-of-character behavior in Hannah during her ordeal). and he is a master at painting characters who are full of doubts and regrets for the choices they've made and fears that they've lived the wrong life. i guess i relate to this, mostly because i almost lived the wrong life, but then, before it was too late, changed it. the other thing about kennedy's writing is that it awakens my own stories and inspires me to write as well. and since writing helps me figure out what it is i think of things and well, the world, that's a good thing. i've already moved onto my next kennedy and i'm sure it won't be the last. since i use my goodreads as a place to store quotes which i wish to remember: "In Mom's universe, nobody interesting was normal or decent. Those virtues were for the terminally boring." "My point is that you've got to stop looking at your parents as parents and start seeing them as typically fucked-up adults....which is what we're going to become eventually." "The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven." (quoting Milton.) "No one except the two central participants can ever really understand the complex internal geography of a marriage." "But what's wrong with doubt? HJow can anyone hold a black-and-white view of things when, in the end, most human interaction is so profoundly grey? Those closest to us do things that are baffling. We, in turn, do things we don't totally comprehend. Because we never really understand others, let alone ourselves."

  15. 4 out of 5

    Wolfgang

    After the "Big Picture" I vote this the second best by Douglas Kennedy. There are some curious similarities here to the themes from one of my most favorite books ever : "The Company You Keep" by Neil Gordon. I just looked up the publishing dates and Kennedy's was published just a short while after Gordon's (2005 vs. 2004). The similarities are the buried secrets in the main characters' lives, which both connect them to the rebellious 60's and the Weathermen, albeit in very different ways. And in After the "Big Picture" I vote this the second best by Douglas Kennedy. There are some curious similarities here to the themes from one of my most favorite books ever : "The Company You Keep" by Neil Gordon. I just looked up the publishing dates and Kennedy's was published just a short while after Gordon's (2005 vs. 2004). The similarities are the buried secrets in the main characters' lives, which both connect them to the rebellious 60's and the Weathermen, albeit in very different ways. And in both cases the long forgotten history breaks through 30+ years later and shatters lives once again. It is really fun how Douglas Kennedy captures the 60's/early 70's spirit of the times. Once the story enters the early 2000's and the past breaks back through completely unexpectedly and as a nightmare, the book becomes thriller-like gripping. The past arrives with earthquake strength and questions everything in Hannah's, the main character's, life. Wonderfully the counter-culture events get replayed against the backdrop of a set of hypocritical Bush-ite evangelicals, just like the culture wars were then and still are. The Vietnam wound will never heal and the clash of social freedom with right-wing self-rightuousness has no end in sight. Clearly the author is taking sides here (not with left wing criminals, mind you) and is not just standing neutral in the background. That makes the book honest and captivating - and, no wonder, an irritant to conservatives. Good fun !

  16. 4 out of 5

    Drew

    I have some ambivalence about this book. I was very engaged in the the set-up: conservative, conventional daughter of liberal, hippy parents who marries a family doc and settles down in small town America. And I loved that part of the story. I enjoyed seeing political idealogies emerge through and I loved the young Tobey character. This book also got me thinking about my own life, and just how cautious and future oriented I should be vs. living in the moment. This bumps it's score up big time. Al I have some ambivalence about this book. I was very engaged in the the set-up: conservative, conventional daughter of liberal, hippy parents who marries a family doc and settles down in small town America. And I loved that part of the story. I enjoyed seeing political idealogies emerge through and I loved the young Tobey character. This book also got me thinking about my own life, and just how cautious and future oriented I should be vs. living in the moment. This bumps it's score up big time. Also, I couldn't put it down. You can chalk that up to the easy to read, formulaic, set-the-pins-up-and-knock-em-down writing style, but it was fun for me to be so exited to pick up a book and stick with it. Tougher, more complex works are easier to set back down. So, for what it is, a popular drama, I very much enjoyed this book.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Tracey Tester

    Once again the author writes extremely well from the perspective of the main character who is female. I didn't enjoy this quite as much as The Pursuit of Happiness or A Special Relationship - probably because it was slightly political in places. But a good read nevertheless.

  18. 5 out of 5

    verity Shepley

    Excellent read, wasn't expecting to enjoy it anything like as much as I did. Nik, you will love it. nearly voted it 5 stars.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Megan

    Very good, like Kennedy's writing, despite the very cheesy covers which are very unrepresentative of his novels.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sally Boots

    A good read, but at first I couldn't bear it because the main character was a heavy smoker; I felt like I was in the room with her and the only way to leave was to close the book.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Wendy Davie

    Another Goodie, I loved it.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Julz Manu

    Has been a really good read, douglas kennedy is a great writer, especially as the main characters are always women!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Veronique

    Seems great at first but turns out to be a huge dissapointment!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    Setting: 1966-73 and 2003. In 60's America, the theme was radical upheaval, with civil rights protests, anti-war marches, sexual liberation and hallucinogenic drugs. As the daughter of a radical professor and artist mother, Hannah Buchan is expected to rebel against traditional American values. So her parents are disappointed when she decides that, rather than 'rebel', she prefers to marry her doctor boyfriend Dan and raise a family. But, once installed in a small Maine town where everyone knows Setting: 1966-73 and 2003. In 60's America, the theme was radical upheaval, with civil rights protests, anti-war marches, sexual liberation and hallucinogenic drugs. As the daughter of a radical professor and artist mother, Hannah Buchan is expected to rebel against traditional American values. So her parents are disappointed when she decides that, rather than 'rebel', she prefers to marry her doctor boyfriend Dan and raise a family. But, once installed in a small Maine town where everyone knows everyone's business, Hannah finds boredom setting in. So, in the absence of her husband one weekend, she is tempted into an act of rebellion that causes her much trepidation in its aftermath. 30 years on, Hannah and Dan have two grown-up children and are living a comfortable life until a series of events brings Hannah's act of rebellion out in the open, with devastating results for Hannah's life.... Another great read from Mr Kennedy who never seems to disappoint as far as I am concerned. It always amazes me how well he seems to be able to write many of his stories from the female character's point of view. Really enjoyed it - 9/10.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Dyana

    In digging through my many boxes of books for something to read, I pulled out this one. Why didn't I read this book a long time ago? It was a compelling, hard-to-put-down book. It's written in 1st person by the character Hannah (Latham) Buchan and details her life and how an unfortunate impulsive act came back to haunt her and everyone she knows 30 years later. This book is divided into 2 parts. The 1st half covers 1966 - 1973 and sets the background for the 2nd half. It's a time of marching in p In digging through my many boxes of books for something to read, I pulled out this one. Why didn't I read this book a long time ago? It was a compelling, hard-to-put-down book. It's written in 1st person by the character Hannah (Latham) Buchan and details her life and how an unfortunate impulsive act came back to haunt her and everyone she knows 30 years later. This book is divided into 2 parts. The 1st half covers 1966 - 1973 and sets the background for the 2nd half. It's a time of marching in protests, using hallucinogenic drugs, and practicing free love. Hannah is the daughter of aging, hippy, liberal parents. She has issues with her over-the-top bitchy artist mother; and her father, John Winthrop Latham, is a famous womanizing radical college professor whom she has a loving relationship with. Hanna is a very conservative school teacher who wants nothing more than to marry, have children, and lead a "normal" life. She meets Dan who will become an orthopedic surgeon. He's also conservative and "salt-of-the-earth" dull. Hannah gives up a chance to visit Paris (her dream trip) in fear she will lose Dan while she's gone. Be careful "what you wish for", because after she marries him, has a child, and they move to a very small town in Maine to begin their lives together Hannah has second thoughts after she becomes bored and feels isolated and realizes she made a mistake. Then one day her father sends Tobias Judson, a high profile student activist with ties to the Weathermen, to visit for a couple of days. It turns out he is on the run from authorities, and Hannah doesn't discover this until it's too late. Unfortunately, her husband is gone tending to his dying father, and Hannah makes a decision that will force her into breaking the law and will haunt her 30 years later. She is blackmailed into driving Tobias to the Canadian boarder with her baby son, Jeff, in the backseat. After it's over, Hannah vows to live a faultless life and she does. The second half of the book takes place in 2003. She is now in a life-less but what she thinks is a stable marriage, teaching at a private school, and has two grown children. Her daughter Lizzie, who has mental issues, has disappeared after having an affair with a high-profile doctor. Her disappearance hits the media with a frenzy. Her best friend, Margy, has lung cancer. And to top off her free-fall into the media spotlight, Tobias Judson reappears in her life by writing a book titled "I Ain't A-Marching Anymore: Memoirs of a Reformed Radical with a whole chapter devoted to Hannah and what she did - all lies, of course. Hannah's life spins out of control after keeping this secret for so long. This book profiled the political ideologies of the 60's and 70's and showed how it affected the relationships of this particular family and what devastating consequences a spur-of-the-moment decision can have for the future. Hannah loses the support of her family and friends, except for Margy and her father. The author has such insight into the emotions and entanglements of the family dynamic. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Evelyn

    Beautifully written but a bit draggy.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jill

    Douglas Kennedy knows how to weave an engrossing tale. He builds the pace, the storyline, the characters up, up, up... sometimes the story seems a bit slow or circular, but you know it 's all taking you someplace. And someplace that will have you turning the pages deep into the night, as you can't stop reading. I've read a few Kennedy novels, and they all have a similar trajectory. We start with a fairly ordinary scenario with a regular person in a familiar situation. Then some fissure, some cra Douglas Kennedy knows how to weave an engrossing tale. He builds the pace, the storyline, the characters up, up, up... sometimes the story seems a bit slow or circular, but you know it 's all taking you someplace. And someplace that will have you turning the pages deep into the night, as you can't stop reading. I've read a few Kennedy novels, and they all have a similar trajectory. We start with a fairly ordinary scenario with a regular person in a familiar situation. Then some fissure, some crack, some huge jolt interrupts their tame and predictable life, and WHAMMO! All hell breaks loose. Their world is turned upside down, their relationships are shattered, their calm life becomes chaotic. Just when you think it's all too terrible, it gets worse! Our heroine (normally it's a heroine) struggles and chafes and behaves badly and generally behaves in a very human way in the face of a horrible set of escalating circumstances. And so it is with this story. We start in 1973 and a series of events which we just know is going to blow back in a very bad way, later in the book. And so it does. Skip to 2003 and the tension almost immediately starts to build, as our main gal's life turns from a serene lake into a monster ocean storm. And oh what a ride it is! We rollick and roll along with Hannah, bemoaning the betrayals and sighing with her missteps, which are many. But she's likeable, and we forgive her for being human. And we just cannot wait to see how the resolution will occur. Because that's another Douglas Kennedy hallmark: the hairpin turn in the final section of the story, where a rabbit is pulled out of the proverbial hat, and our heroine is saved. Where she's vindicated. Where she ends up wiser, even if she's got a few battle scars to show for the gaining of that wisdom. A great ride!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Ahh, the classic epic novel. Thankfully, loads of the epics I am picking up lately, I am enjoying, if only for their tight use of characters. This was another easy story with small cast. Girl with hippie parents (and issues with her mother) meets and falls for some guy while in college. She and her mother have a falling out over something and while the mother is sick she essentially tricks the girl into apologizing for something even though the girl didn't want to. Mother survives, but their rel Ahh, the classic epic novel. Thankfully, loads of the epics I am picking up lately, I am enjoying, if only for their tight use of characters. This was another easy story with small cast. Girl with hippie parents (and issues with her mother) meets and falls for some guy while in college. She and her mother have a falling out over something and while the mother is sick she essentially tricks the girl into apologizing for something even though the girl didn't want to. Mother survives, but their relationship is pretty much over and the second half of the book, the mother has like Alzheimer's and isn't even in the book. Girl wants a "normal" life and marries the guy and has a baby quickly before realizing that this isn't what she wanted (gee, at 22, I WONDER) but thankfully sucks it up. Husband goes back to his hometown to deal with his dying father and girl's father sends her one of his hippie friends to stay with her. They have a quick affair before she finds out that he is on the run (father knew as well) and he tricks her into driving him to Canada. It all ends okay until 30 years later when between the affair guy becoming born again or some shit like that and writing a book about his past and the women's daughter is currently missing, it all blows up in her face at once. While the whole story was okay, I feel like they gave up looking for the daughter really fast. Like months go by and hardly anyone cares anymore (really?!) and then out of the blue the daughter calls because she is now illegally living in Canada (oh, my favorite topic!) and the mother just kind of lets it be. I don't know, I feel like the mother should care more, but it's like she doesn't. I don't understand. A decent epic with easy plot and small cast. My favorite!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Tish

    Bigot is defined as "Stubborn and complete intolerance of any creed, belief or opinion that differs from your own". People have a right to bash liberal or conservative politics, but the author goes too far when he takes on a people group whose beliefs & values differ from his and he paints them consistently & uniformly (physically, morally, and spiritually) ugly & altogether repellant. Who are these hideous people the author so disdains? Not terrorists or baby seal slaughterers. The villains in Bigot is defined as "Stubborn and complete intolerance of any creed, belief or opinion that differs from your own". People have a right to bash liberal or conservative politics, but the author goes too far when he takes on a people group whose beliefs & values differ from his and he paints them consistently & uniformly (physically, morally, and spiritually) ugly & altogether repellant. Who are these hideous people the author so disdains? Not terrorists or baby seal slaughterers. The villains in his book are conservative born again Christians. They are all either liars, judgmental, arrogant, spiteful, physically unattractive or a combination of these. Where is his balance or tolerance? I know people that consider themselves conservative born again Christians and they certainly don't fit this author's description. I am sure there are some bad apples, but every single one of them? Really? If he demonized any other religion or group this way people might rightly accuse him of a verbal hate crime. He is an educated man and I would expect a more balanced representation of any broad group of people and not this easy & somewhat lazy caricature. Sorry, but I can't recommend this book. I'm even the same age as the main character & experienced the radical 60's and the free love message that swept the country. I was hoping for so much more from this author.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Lesley

    Okay, first of all, this book really has nothing to do with 9/11. You read the description here and think that *that* specific event is going to be built up to as a focus in the book. Not at all the case. I actually found it in my library's "new" section about a month and a half ago --and I won't lie-- I totally judged this book by its cover. I wouldn't have even bothered to check the first page blurb about it, if not for the cover. What I saw there obviously piqued my interest, or you wouldn't b Okay, first of all, this book really has nothing to do with 9/11. You read the description here and think that *that* specific event is going to be built up to as a focus in the book. Not at all the case. I actually found it in my library's "new" section about a month and a half ago --and I won't lie-- I totally judged this book by its cover. I wouldn't have even bothered to check the first page blurb about it, if not for the cover. What I saw there obviously piqued my interest, or you wouldn't be reading this now. This was a...startling...a breathtaking read. I promise you, when you pick this book up, you're not at all going to arrive at end results that you ever thought. And the writing? Spectacular. Easy, yet still throwing quotes and curve ball reminders that he's quite on top of his game. Fantastic read. I intend to read ALL of Kennedy's books, and relatively soon.

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