REVIEW: HERE WE LIE, BY PAULA TREICK DEBOARD

 

Megan Mazeros and Lauren Mabrey are complete opposites on paper. Megan is a girl from a modest Midwest background, and Lauren is the daughter of a senator from an esteemed New England family. When they become roommates at a private women’s college, they forge a strong, albeit unlikely, friendship, sharing clothes, advice and their most intimate secrets.

The summer before senior year, Megan joins Lauren and her family on their private island off the coast of Maine. It should be a summer of relaxation, a last hurrah before graduation and the pressures of post-college life. Then late one night, something unspeakable happens, searing through the framework of their friendship and tearing them apart. Many years later, Megan publicly comes forward about what happened that fateful night, revealing a horrible truth and threatening to expose long-buried secrets.

My Thoughts: In the beginning of Here We Lie, a press conference is about to start. Lauren Mabrey manages to push her way into the room, where she waits for what is about to be divulged.

Flash back to the late 1990s, where we meet Megan Mazeros, living in Kansas, watching her father die very slowly of mesothelioma. She foregoes the beginning of college while helping out her family.

A year later, she moves to Connecticut to attend Keale College in Scofield. She doesn’t meet Lauren until later in the year, but despite the drastic differences between them, they become fast friends.

However, the friendship is never really equal, since Lauren’s life of privilege keeps her on a slightly elevated plane.

When something traumatic happens to Megan the summer before their final year of college, Lauren doesn’t even bother to listen. She blames Megan, and the rift between them is insurmountable.

Alternately narrated by Lauren and Megan, I could not put this story down. It brought out a timely reminder of power and privilege, and how there are always those who are considered more credible than others. I rooted for both girls as they struggled on their way to becoming women, as they each had their own obstacles. Lauren came from a world of privilege, but her family treated her as “less than.” Her desires and ambitions did not fit the family image.

Megan suffered on the other side of that divide, and it took many years to bring her into her own. An unforgettable story that could have been one of today’s headlines. 5 stars.

***

REVIEW: BLUEPRINTS, BY BARBARA DELINSKY

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As a mother and daughter team, Caroline and Jamie MacAfee are best friends as well, and each of them is impeccable in their roles within the family company, MacAfee Homes. Their reality show, Gut it!, is all about renovating and bringing attention to the company’s work.

As the host of the show, Caroline has hit her stride. Confident and proud, she enjoys basking in all of it. And Jamie’s role as the architect brings her unique talents to the mix.

So when the network producers decide that a major change is in order, all hell is about to break loose. They want 56-year-old Caroline to step down from hosting, replaced by her daughter Jamie. And Jamie is told first, tasked with giving the news to her mother.

But she hesitates. And then too much time has passed, and major drama is unleashed. Compounded by the secrecy, as well as by a few other issues, the fallout has the potential to damage the relationships between mother and daughter, as well as the company.

On the heels of this stunning reveal, the accidental death of Roy MacAfee and his wife Jessica, will change everything. As Jamie’s father, and company CEO, these deaths will turn what might have been a mildly disastrous event into total chaos. What will happen to the company now? Will positions of power be toppled? And how will Jamie’s new role as guardian of her two-year-old half-brother Tad change not only her work life but her personal life?

Her fiancé, Brad, has been distant and aloof lately, but adding a baby to the mix seems to have brought out his worst qualities. Were those problems there all along?

Just when she needs it most, Jamie discovers an unexpected friend and resource, a single dad raising a three-year-old, and suddenly, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. As if to fill in the void left by the rift with her mother, Jamie quickly falls in love and behaves impulsively for her.

Meanwhile, Caroline, stunned by how being marginalized because of age tears at her confidence, turns to an old friend for romantic comfort.

My favorite parts were the descriptions of the homes as they were renovated and redesigned, a guilty pleasure of mine that felt as good as watching an HGTV special. The mother-daughter issues felt real as well. Competition between them is exacerbated by the reminder that older is not necessarily valued, not even in a family company. A painful awakening.

Themes of family dynamics, competition, power, and severed bonds bring just the right amount of drama to this otherwise feel-good story. Somewhat predictable, but thoroughly engaging, Blueprints: A Novel was a captivating read that deserves 4.5 stars.