Beach Plum Island. Holly Robinson. Penguin Group (USA). April 2014. 400 pp. ISBN#: 9780451241023.
Ava, Elaine, and Gigi are grieving the death of their father in different ways. Ava and Elaine are sisters from their father’s first marriage and Gigi from his second marriage. Elaine lives each day as a successful business woman but at night trolls clubs and bars for drinks and a one-night stand, the latter the wildness that alone offers her consolation. For she deeply resents that her father left their mother, causing the latter’s eventual mental and emotional descent into drink and then death. Ava loves Elaine but seems powerless to offer any comfort and peace. Ava instead buries herself in her art teacher work, her pottery business and raising her two teenage sons. That’s all about to change when she and Gigi meet weeks after the funeral!
Gigi is a young, teenage girl who dies her hair different colors and does pretty much what she wants as her own mother is so devastated by the loss of her husband she is oblivious to Gigi. Mercifully, Gigi meets Ava and change begins. Gigi meets Ava’s sons and it turns out they blend very, very well together as Gigi has a phenomenal singing voice. Ava knows exactly what to say and what not to say, so Gigi learns to trust someone who really cares for her as a real sister would and respects her likes and dislikes.
To say more would be a spoiler, but suffice to say that Ava and Gigi decide to act on their father’s last words. They discover they had a brother who was born with a physical handicap under mysterious circumstances that no one will discuss; the sisters decide to attempt to find him. The quest is both arduous and comforting in a strange but beautiful way!
Meanwhile, Ava and Elaine separately meet men who will treat them respectfully as adults, accepting their grief but not treating them like fragile pots that will break. They also are both attractive for their honesty, spoken with just enough firmness to elicit growth and without making these women hurt more than they already do. Add in some genuinely charming, fired-up romance!
Beach Plum Island is a perfect read for this springtime and upcoming summer. The author is quite talented in the manner in which she has depicted wounded but capable women who need to grieve but also need to move beyond the poignant moments of their past history. Sensitivity clearly enables every character in this novel to grow, to expose grievous secrets and to create new life that erodes the tension too long lying just below the surface. Evolution yields good experiences for both main and minor characters. Lovely, powerful story that is well-crafted – great read, Holly Robinson!