THE POSSIBILITIES

by Kaui Hart Hemmings |

NOVEL

Grieving is a messy business, as Sarah St. John has discovered. Three months after an avalanche buried her 22-year-old son Cully, this fortysomething single mother has steeled herself to go back to her job as a local TV personality in the Colorado ski resort where she’s lived her whole life. Bad idea. Sarah makes crude on-air gaffes, hurls savage insults at the well-intentioned people trying to comfort her and falls apart when she learns that Cully had a secret life. It takes the arrival of a mysterious girl with a problem for Sarah to slowly, painfully, regain her focus. Hemmings has dreamed up a beguiling assortment of characters: Sarah, with her broken heart and her sour wit; Sarah’s eccentric father, who enthusiastically stockpiles products advertised on late-night TV; her rueful, rakish ex-boyfriend (Cully’s dad); and her rich, overweight best friend, who’s in the throes of divorce and has become an irritating competitor in grief. Funny, insightful and unsentimental, the book confirms that yes, people drive each other crazy much of the time, but as often as they fail, they never stop trying to rise to the occasion.

—REVIEWED BY HELEN ROGAN

THE LAST KIND WORDS SALOON

by Larry McMurtry |

NOVEL

As the sun starts to set on the Old West, famed lawman Wyatt Earp and his pal, gunslinger-dentist Doc Holliday, make their way from sleepy Long Grass, Texas, to boomtown Tombstone, Ariz. There, Earp’s brother Warren plans to open a saloon with Wyatt’s wife, Jessie, bartending. In this “ballad in prose,” as McMurtry (Lonesome Dove) describes his latest book, he paints the familiar historical characters in unfamiliar ways: Earp’s a henpecked wife-beater, Holliday’s a wry drunk prowling for patients, and they’re both loping along until the climactic shoot-out at the O.K. Corral. The book’s lovely, but its ambling pace may leave you rootin’ for a little more shootin’.

—REVIEWED BY RICHARD EISENBERG

SAVE THE DATE

by Jen Doll |

MEMOIR

With more than 20 weddings under her belt – sometimes a bridesmaid, never a bride – Doll mines her nuptial-day exploits in this wry Sex and the City-style memoir. From splashy far-flung blowouts (Jamaica? Yes, please!) to a simple ceremony at City Hall, she’s seen it all and routinely overindulged in the free-flowing alcohol. At one black tie affair her date shows up in black jeans. At another she falls prey to a collapsing ice sculpture. And hookups at “love camp,” as Doll calls destination nups, invariably go south. Engaging and disarmingly honest, Save the Date brings to mind every wedding you’ve ever attended – for better or worse.

—REVIEWED BY JOANNA POWELL

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