Thursday, February 10, 2011

Book Review: Beacon of Love by Ann Roberts

Stephanie and Paula were inseparable best friends from grade school through high school. Then Paula wanted to take their friendship to the next level and Stephanie couldn’t. After graduation, they went their separate ways. Twenty-five years later, Stephanie has returned to their hometown, leaving her 18-year-old son and cheating husband in Phoenix. Paula returns to town when her mother, Francine, dies. The two women, who have not forgotten, are reunited at Francine’s funeral. Each woman must deal with loss and new passion. When Stephanie’s husband appears demanding that she return to him or he will expose her as a lesbian, Stephanie must make a decision that will not only affect her life, but Paula’s as well.

Roberts has written a multi-layered book that twists and turns like a mountain road. Each chapter has a new - and unexpected - revelation that will keep the reader turning pages to find out not only what the author will reveal next, but what the characters will do with the new information. None of the revelations are contrived or convenient, all make sense within the context of the story.

This is a well written book about love, loss, redemption, and parenthood. Rivers intertwines her characters like a helix and slowly unveils the truth about each one. For instance, Debbie, Stephanie’s mother, continues to embarrass her daughter at every turn just as she did when Stephanie was growing up. In the capable hands of Roberts, Debbie, like the other characters, is a complicated character who, in the end, is revealed to be flawed, yes, but also deeper than what she appears to be on the surface.

Roberts doesn’t waste words in her writing. She uses words wisely to reveal her characters and her story. For instance, she writes, “The greedy monster that was time ate up their friendship . . . .” This image of time as a “greedy monster” reveals so much about friendship in general and the friendship of Stephanie and Paula. Nicely done.

This is one of those books that sneaks up on the reader. There aren’t a lot of bells and whistles, it doesn’t shout at you, nor does it hit you over the head. It is, however, well written and in a quiet way, the characters and their story will stay with you long after you finish the book and put it aside.

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