Thursday, July 2, 2009

A Better View of Paradise-Randy Sue Coburn

A Better View of Paradise
Randy Sue Coburn
Ballantine, Jul 14 2009, $25.00
ISBN: 9780345490360

Her Hawaiian upbringing has made thirty-six year old landscape architect Stevie Pollack very popular in the mainland as she brings a taste of the islands to her work. However, her latest effort in Chicago is universally scorned as pretentious rather than the natural exotic beauty she normally delivers, Stevie is stunned and hurt as she struggles with the criticisms something she never faced before. While in the Windy City, her cousin Margo informs her that her dad Hank has a sister he never mentioned to her. She returns to New York for solace with her lover, but he adds to her depression when he dumps her.

She debates with herself whether she should return to Hawaii. On the one hand she has not seen her father in ages, but their relationship was at best argumentative; however, she muses over the "swirling wonder" of the island with its calming waters and balmy land which has always soothed her soul. Following her discussions with Margo about the family and the dumping, Stevie knows you can go home if it is the right time; for her it is the right time.

Although overwhelmed with improbable happenings that ease Stevie’s decisions like her learning her dad is dying or her meeting the hunk veterinarian, fans will enjoy this strong whimsical Hawaiian adventure filled with local lore and myths. Stevie is a likeable protagonist who holds the tale together in Chicago, New York, and Hawaii as she ponders the reflections of her life as more than just marmalade as she muses growing up with a cantankerous father and a stiff upper lip Brit mom. Fans will enjoy her return home as she knows it is not the same yet somehow in the bigger scheme, the island retains its mystical hold on her.

Harriet Klausner

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