Plume, Jun 29 2010, $15.00
College art teacher Susanna Greenfield is the poster person for sandwich meat. She is the peacemaker between her mother Jean and her born-again sister Angie; she is the peacemaker between her spouse Gerry the architect and their teenage children. Lately as she tries to recreate her art career, she is tired of being caught in the middle with the demands of her loved ones ignoring her needs whether they expect her to play tennis or take them somewhere. In fact she believes they scorn her as pathetic when all she wants is her art life back and fears it is too late as she no longer wants to be the responsible one holding the extended family together.
A car accident leaves the two sisters stunned with grief though Susana focuses on painting for her upcoming exhibit. Angie’s son Finn is fearful of his mother’s boyfriend from the Faith Rise Church, gospel-singing Gabriel while Susanna learns the truth about her monogamous marriage and Angie learns the truth about her boyfriend. Life seems to be falling apart for the siblings, but each shows strengths that neither expected they had.
Although the story line has a soap opera feel to it, the strong cast makes the tale worth reading. Susanna is an incredible individual as her children Stella-Jean and Sebastian would testify with Stella-Jean showing similar fortitude late in the novel. Angie is an addictive personality needing to belong. Whereas the two adult males are selfish and abusive though in radically different ways as Gerry is verbally disdainful of his wife while Gabriel is ugly to Finn. Fans will root for the two sisters to kick the men in their respective lives to the curb, but doubt either has the strength to do so in this entertaining family drama.