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Library Journal Review
Although she's a Broadway star, self-centered Geneva Jordan has butterflies in her stomach when she (grudgingly) travels to Minnesota to take care of her 13-year-old nephew, Rich, who has Down's syndrome, while her sister and brother-in-law take a month-long vacation in Italy. In addition to being inherently selfish, Geneva is also coping with fast-approaching menopause and a devastating breakup with her costar, Trevor. But staying with Rich proves surprisingly rewarding, especially after they discover a scrapbook Geneva and her sister put together as children, which forces her to confront life, death, and happiness. Of course, it doesn't hurt that she meets James, a concert pianist with a bad case of stage fright (now working as a mailman, much to the shame of his ex-wife). When Geneva returns to New York and her old life, Trevor's reappearance (with an enormous diamond ring) forces her to choose between the two men. It's a no-brainer, yet Landvik's fourth novel is sadly predictable and flat, completely lacking the vigor, delightful characters, and goofy plot that endeared readers (including this reviewer) to her third novel, The Tall Pine Polka (LJ 7/99). Purchase only to meet demand. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 5/1/00.]DNancy Pearl, Washington Ctr. for the Book, Seattle (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Review
From the popular author of Patty Jane's House of Curl and The Tall Pine Polka comes a funny, heartwarming novel in which the voice of the self-absorbed Broadway diva Geneva Jordan holds ingratiating charm. It's not Geneva's singing voice that's the magic here, however, but her plainspoken storytelling. At age 48, Geneva is called upon by her twin sister, Ann, to come to her hometown of Deep Lake, Minn., and baby-sit Rich, Ann's 13-year-old son, afflicted with Down's Syndrome. Ann and her husband, Riley, desperately need a vacation, the first one since Rich's birth, so Geneva reluctantly agrees to leave her glamorous life in New York City to care for her nephew for a month. Geneva slips into the role of parental figure with a few minor snags, and she and Rich bond over a box of old toys, where Geneva uncovers a scrapbook she and Ann made as children. Titled The Great Mysterious, the book asks such existential questions as "What is true love?" and "What is the meaning of life?" to which each family member wrote an answer. This diversion motivates Geneva's metamorphosis. Reading the words of her grandmother and parents, she begins to feel the ache of having given up family for her career. Still reeling from a "doublehitterÄ-heartbreak and menopause" (she had broken up with her Broadway co-star), Geneva forges a special friendship with James, Deep Lake's wise mailman. She does, however, return to New York, where she considers marriage proposals until tragedy strikes a dear friend, forcing her yet again to reevaluate what's important in life. While the plot extends few surprises, Landvik's unpretentious story admirably captures the ups and downs of a small town from the humorous perspective of a big-city star. Agent, Betsy Nolan. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Kirkus Book Review
A flamboyant Broadway actress helps out her sister by caring for her nephewa Down syndrome teenagerfor a month. Geneva Jordan has just discovered shes not the center of the universe after all. Her run in a hit musical has ended, and shes been jilted by her lover, co-star Trevor, a studly British actor with a penchant for ingénues. What to do but sulk and moan? She might as well help out her mousy sister Ann, whos begging her to watch her 13-year-old son Richard so Ann can take a long-overdue vacation with her husband. Geneva reluctantly agrees, happy to get away from Trevor and his latest wide-eyed conquest. Flaunting lots of New York attitude, she descends upon her sisters modest house outside Minneapolisand soon she and Rich are best buddies, sharing good times and talking over old ones. And thats when Rich brings out the book Geneva and her sister made years agoTHE GREAT MYSTERIOUS. Using a Cheerios box for the cover and construction paper pockets for the pages, the young girls posed the Big Questions about life, love, and God to one and all. The contributors: their practical dad, freethinking mom, earnest Grandma Hjordis, and, naturally, the sisters themselves. As she reads, Geneva realizes that the answers hold more meaning than everand many surprises. An even better surprise: the irresistibly down-to-earth James, single father of one of Richs playmates. A mailman by choice, and a gifted pianist as well, Jamess wry wit and sturdy Minnesota virtues make him more appealing than pseudo-sophisticated Trevor, who has the effrontery to beg Geneva to come back when the ingénue moves on. Geneva must choose, and choose she does. Despite the brittle dialogue (often very funny), theres a you-betcha optimism at the heart of this winning tale. Landvik (The Tall Pine Polka, 1999, etc.) takes a less self-consciously wacky approach and should reach a wider readership this time around.