Ordinary Lives…Maybe

Have you ever or would you even think of sharing the time of your life before marriage or becoming a parent?  That is one thing Lara Nelson never gave it a thought.

Tom Lake (2023) by Ann Patchett is actually two stories in one.  Early on in the book, you will be introduced to the Nelson family and learn about their life on a cherry farm in northern Michigan.

One morning when the family are all out in the orchard picking cherries. Lara is relating a time from her younger years and her unlikely connection to “Our Town”, the play by Thornton Wilder to her three daughters who are now in their 20s.

So begins the story:  Lara steps back in time to the 1980s.  It is springtime in New Hampshire.  She is looking forward to summer and her upcoming senior year of high school.

One of the first things the girls learned from their mom was the fact that she had changed the spelling of her name.  In fact, it turns our there is quite a lot they do not know about their mother.

Emily, Maisie, and Nell were told their mother’s senior year of high school and her time following at the University of New Hampshire.  It was their Lara saw the notice for “Our Town”.  Those two words led Lara to Los Angeles.


If you enjoy suspense in your life, Never Have I Ever (2019) by Joshilyn Jackson might just be just perfect for you.  It is a bit of a slow start, but it gets up to speed and then some!  Between the “battle of wills” and the “dark twists”, you will stay engaged.  It starts out by getting to know Amy Whey, 42 years old, who lives an ordinary life.  That life includes gatherings with her neighbors for book club, and scuba diving.  Amy’s husband, Davis, is a professor.  Maddy is their 15-year-old daughter.  Oliver is their infant son.

Amy is headed next door to her best friend’s, Charlotte’s for Book Club.  As others begin to gather, a lady new to the neighborhood comes to join the group.  Angelica Roux, single mom of a teenage son, comes to meet other residents of the neighborhood.

Angelica has a way about her that draws others to her.  In fact, she begins to act like she owns the place.  She keeps the wine flowing.  Angelica even starts a fun game for the group “Never Have I Ever”.  The game started out fun.  Although Amy gets the feeling it is not all innocent on Roux’s part.

Hidden pasts, secrets kept, betrayals, lead to blackmail with lots of twists and turns which may surprise you.

Do not give up, the second half is the best in this slow burn thriller.  It is a case of battle of the wills.  Winner takes all.

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