Booklist Reviews 2014 April #1
*Starred Review* Three months after her 21-year-old son, Cully, is killed in an avalanche, Sarah St. John decides to go back to work. But her job as cohost of Fresh Tracks, a program that is piped into the hotel rooms of Breckenridge, Colorado, now seems inane. Added to that, when Sarah and her best friend, Suzanne, clean out Cully's room, they find evidence that he was selling pot. More surprises about Cully come to light when a girl named Kit appears on Sarah's doorstep. Soon it is revealed that Cully and Kit had a relationship, and Sarah and her father, Lyle, with whom she shares her house, are drawn to Kit because she seems to make Cully more reachable. The whole of what Sarah calls her "tribe"—Sarah, Lyle, Suzanne, and Kit, along with Cully's dad, Billy, whom Sarah never married—go on a road trip to Colorado Springs to attend a memorial service for Cully, and the trip helps them find a way to move forward and achieve a measure of peace. As she did in The Descendants (2007), Hemmings deftly deploys her idyllic setting, leavens tragedy with humor, avoids sentimentality, and offers characters whom readers will find very appealing. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Anticipation will be running high for the second novel from Hemmings, whose debut, The Descendants, has been published in 20 other countries and was made into an Oscar Award–winning film directed by Alexander Payne and starring George Clooney. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.
LJ Reviews 2013 December #1
Readers who loved Hemmings's The Descendants will be thrilled to see her back with another fiercely dry-eyed story of family complications. Devastated by the death of her son in an avalanche near their Colorado home, single mother Sarah St. John moves slowly through the stages of grief. Then a young woman comes calling, and she's carrying Cully's child.[Page 69]. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
LJ Reviews 2014 February #2
Because Hemmings's first novel, The Descendants, was adapted into a successful movie starring George Clooney, her follow-up is bound to be held up to that standard. There are many similarities: both novels center on dealing with grief and illustrate the author's love of place; sunny Hawaii in the former and Breckenridge, CO, in the latter. Both provide bright splashes of humor mixed with insight into messy family relationships. Narrator Sarah St. John is a single mom whose 22-year-old son, Cully, died in an avalanche while snowboarding. Sarah is struggling to come to terms with Cully's death, as is her father, Lyle, and Cully's father, Billy, whom Sarah never married. When Kit appears with her own reasons to mourn Cully, all the protagonists start thinking about the possibilities of what could have been and what could be. VERDICT The book has some rambling, stream-of-consciousness moments while Sarah tries to process all her emotions, and it lacks a deliciously snarky teenage character—but does offer a comic foil in Suzanne, Sarah's pot-smoking, plain-speaking best friend. Despite these slight flaws, this is a strong second showing for readers who enjoy modern characters, some laughs, and a good cry. [See Prepub Alert, 11/11/13.]—Christine Perkins, Whatcom County Lib. Syst., Bellingham, WA[Page 97]. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
PW Reviews 2014 January #2
A grieving mother tries to make peace with her son's death in this wry and heartwarming second novel from the author of The Descendants. Sarah St. John, a talk show host in the seasonal ski town of Breckenridge, Colo., is devastated when her 22-year-old son, Cully, is killed by an avalanche. She seeks solace in an unorthodox support group: her impolitic father, who lives with her; her best friend, Suzanne, whose own divorce occupies her attention; and Billy, Cully's father, whose distance from Sarah's life diminishes as they grieve for their son together. On the cusp of emotional recovery, Sarah and her family are thrown again when they meet a young woman whose story raises new questions about Cully's life. With a deft and dry humor, Hemmings tackles the unique and unexpectedly humorous ways in which one is expected to mourn: a woman in town whose son died in a similar accident asks Sarah to join Parents Against Avalanche Disaster, "as if by not joining PAAD you were promoting avalanche disaster." But, on closer inspection, the novel is a treatise on parenthood: Sarah struggles less with Cully's death, and more with the fear that she never really knew him at all. "What's the point of everything parents do," she asks herself, "if the kids aren't going to employ us?" Agent: David Forrer, Inkwell Management. (May)[Page ]. Copyright 2014 PWxyz LLC