Elin Hilderbrand
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Buy *Barefoot* by Elin Hilderbrand online

Elin Hilderbrand
Back Bay Books
432 pages
June 2008
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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What chick lit novel set in magnificent Nantucket with three women spending the summer there and a young hunk thrown in would not be a fun and sassy read?

STOP! This is Elin Hilderbrand, and there is so much more than chick lit here. There is the depth of these characters and their individual personal struggles that you come to care about that makes this so much more than that. Those who cherish close relationships with their friends and share their joy as well as their pain and pathos will become effortlessly involved in their stories and find it a hard to put The Land of Mango Sunsets down.

Vicki comes to Nantucket, following her motherís advice, with her two young sons on what would appear to be a simple family summer vacation, had it not been for the fact that she is battling lung cancer. Vickiís story alone makes this a moving and delicate read as she tries bravely to endure her chemotherapy and all that this hideous disease involves. In a loving marriage and family, spirited and courageous Vicki makes it is easy to pull for her to win this war and defeat the dreadful enemy.

Brenda is Vickiís younger sister who has come along to support her sister in this trying time but is also dealing with her own personal predicament. As a professor, Vicki has been fired for committing the unpardonable act of getting involved with a student. Forget the fact that the student is Vickiís age and that they had real feelings for each other; the reality is that she broke a fundamental rule at her prestigious university as well as in the school of general morality. Having a history of not making the best choices in life, as Vicki often reacts emotionally rather than rationally, makes her a character who is bound to do more than just fret over a lost job while caring for her sister.

The third woman in the group is Melanie, who has recently found out that she is pregnant. After years of unsuccessful in-vitro attempts to have a baby, Melanie should be elated, except for her discovery that her husband has been having an affair. Melanie doesnít share the news of her pregnancy with her husband, instead running to Nantucket to think things through.

In addition to the mix of gal pals is Josh, home for the summer from college, who enters early in the story into these three womenís lives. All of them find support from this journal-writing young man who starts out as a babysitter for Vickiís two young boys but quickly becomes their ďjack of all trades,Ē in more than the normal way one would think. Josh seems wise beyond his years as he provides something for each of these women and, in turn, for himself. He is a great support for Vicki as his time with her sons gives her some time to herself that she so desperately needs as she fights her cancerous enemy. Josh also encourages Brenda to write and takes her mind off her current dreadful situation. At the same time, he is just the simple, straightforward person Melanie needs to have listen to her troubles.

The characters all appear fairly believable given the situation. Do you like them all? Do you think you know where all of this will end up at the end? Perhaps, but that is why you keep reading as all is not always as it seems. Funny, involving, and sometimes frustrating, The Land of Mango Sunsets delivers a good time with as each character and their stories intertwine on the way to a not-so-predictable ending.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Karen D. Haney, 2008

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