BOOK REVIEW: LITTLE DISASTERS, BY SARAH VAUGHAN

You think you know her…but look a little closer.

She is a stay-at-home mother-of-three with boundless reserves of patience, energy, and love. After being friends for a decade, this is how Liz sees Jess.

Then one moment changes everything.

Dark thoughts and carefully guarded secrets surface—and Liz is left questioning everything she thought she knew about her friend, and about herself. The truth can’t come soon enough.

 

When  little Betsey Curtis suffers an unexplainable head injury and is hospitalized, questions come from the hospital, the police, and even the people closest to the mother, Jess Curtis. What creates the most doubt is the sense that Jess is hiding something, which is why her story doesn’t add up.

The ER doctor who first saw Betsey is Liz Trenchard, who is a friend of Jess, so she is taken off the case. But she can’t stay completely out of searching for answers, albeit unofficially.

Little Disasters takes us back and forth in time, revealing the ins and outs of the friendships between the characters. As we follow the timelines and the clues, we slowly come to know what happened. But who will be most damaged if the full truth comes out?

As we follow along with Jess’s internal monologue, woven with her dark fears, we also glimpse Liz’s past and something that happened in her childhood. Can anyone be truly exempt from blame when bad things happen?

As we sort through the clues, we soon realize the emotional issues that plague Jess, and even how Liz’s own childhood traumas affect her now.

A sly character adds a menacing layer to the story, and when all is revealed, much can be resolved. 4.5 stars.

***

REVIEW: WE NEVER ASKED FOR WINGS, BY VANESSA DIFFENBAUGH

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When Letty Espinoza took off in her car to stop her mother from going to Mexico, she had left behind her two children, alone in the apartment.

Hers had truly been an act of desperation. She had given birth to her fifteen-year-old son Alex when she was just a teenager, and her mother, Maria Elena, had taken over the responsibility of raising him. Letty worked three jobs to support the family, and when she had her second child, Luna, now six, she had hoped to try again to be a parent. But it was too easy to allow Maria Elena to continue in this role, and Letty felt incapable of the task.

Would she now be forced to try her wings as a parent? Before she could move ahead, though, there would be a final plea in Mexico, and then she would head home. But an accident along the way would derail her plan.

How would Letty finally learn to step up as a parent? How could she make up for her virtual abandonment for the past fifteen years? And how would Alex’s father Wes change her plans for the future?

Obstacles arise with Alex and his new girlfriend, who has complex issues that none of them could foresee. Changing schools to improve Alex’s chances for a better future might be just what he needs, but could it also lead to a gigantic misstep that would leave all of them floundering?

The characters in We Never Asked for Wings: A Novel were believable and easy to root for. Mistakes were made by everyone at one point or another, but the beautifully rendered story brought to light timely themes of motherhood, undocumented immigration, and how striving to reach the American dream can lead to unexpected outcomes. 5 stars.