Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Secret of Everything-Barbara O'Neal

The Secret of Everything
Barbara O'Neal
Bantam, Dec 292009, $15.00
ISBN: 9780553385526

Following the total disaster in Montana, thirty seven years old hiking tour guide Tessa Harlow returns home to her father Sam the surfer dude in Santa Cruz. While her foot is in a cast healing, mentally Tessa thinks about her birthplace, Las Ladronas, New Mexico. Tessa decides it is time to truly go home.

.In Las Ladronas, Tessa meets single dad Vince Grasso and his three girls (Natalie, Hannah and Jade). Vince and Tessa become lovers, but she warns him she is a rolling stone so will one day leave as a “wanderer” does. Tessa also investigates her past starting with the 100 Breakfasts diner. As she and Vince fall in love, the kids come first.

This is an engaging character study as Barbara O’Neal gets deep into the spirit of each key player, which is more than just the charming quintet. The story line is driven by a combination of romance, children in need of a caring mom, the mental healing power of delicious food, and a bit of mystery of what happened to the little girl who left town almost three decades ago. In spite of quoting Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, the climax is too abrupt resolving issues wider than the state in a flash. Still The Secret of Everything is worth reading as Ms. O’Neal reveals the poignant answer as Tessa finds her Tao in this enchanting tale.

Harriet Klausner

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