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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Review: Barefoot Girls by Tara McTiernan

Title: Barefoot Girls
Author: Tara McTiernan
Format: Ebook
Publisher: Bramblevine Press
Publish Date: February 11, 2012
Source: I received a copy from the author. This did not affect my review.

Why You're Reading This Book:
  • You're a fiction fan.
  • You like stories about friendship.
  • You like stories about mother- daughter relationships.
What's the Story?:

From "When her hometown newspaper reviews Hannah O’Brien’s newly released novel, the nature of her book is called into question when the reviewer suggests it is a memoir depicting her neglectful alcoholic mother – Keeley O’Brien Cohen, the most beloved of the Barefoot Girls - a little too accurately for fiction, citing rumors rather than sources.

Deeply hurt and betrayed, Keeley cuts Hannah out of her life. Desperate, Hannah does everything she can to apologize and explain, but her pleas fall on deaf ears. Meanwhile, the rest of Hannah’s life starts to unravel, pushing her to risk her engagement to Daniel, the one man who had been able to scale the high walls around her heart. At the eleventh hour, the Barefoot Girls are able to convince Keeley to send Hannah the keys to the Barefooter house, the home and heart of their friendship. Barred from their clubhouse since she was twelve, Hannah grabs the chance to visit the little shack filled with memories and perched at the tip of Captain’s Island in the Great South Bay on Long Island, New York.

As Hannah battles to come to terms with her equally blessed and troubled childhood and understand her mother and her sister-close friends, she’s confronted with the power of forgiveness and the dangers of holding on to the past."

My Two Cents:

There are several story lines in this story but the one at the focus of the book is the relationship between Hannah and her mother, Keeley. Hannah writes a story that becomes a minor bestseller and Keeley is devastated because she is upset for Hannah either using or being inspired by (something that is never totally clear throughout the book) the story of her childhood.  I can understand why Keeley would be upset. As I said, the inspiration or using of the story is never totally clear. We only see one specific instance of Keeley leaving a young Hannah all by herself to go off to see her parents. Everything else we know about Hannah and Keeley's relationship is hearsay throughout the book. 

The writing is what kept me going through the book. McTiernan makes you really care about the characters even when they seem to be making your own trouble for yourself, which Hannah does a lot throughout the book (clue: don't use thinly veiled family secrets in your book when said family is still alive, don't dig your hole deeper by asking if your next book can be about the family member that you offended's intimate friendships, and don't push your wonderful fiance away when you really need someone in your corner). Anyhow, you can see that I didn't care for a lot of the life choices that Hannah makes. In a lot of ways, she's sort of immature, which could account for the choices that she makes. 

I felt like the book could have focused a little bit more about the matter referred to in the synopsis. Some of the other story lines such as the part about Keeley in her new life as a pseudo-socialite in NYC. I wasn't sure how this really added to the story. I would have liked more focus on building the story of what happened between Hannah and her mother. I would have also liked to know more about what became of Hannah's next book. 

Another story line in the book had to do with Rose, sort of the mean girl of the Barefoot Girls' childhood. I kind of wish we would have learned a little bit more about why she sort of went crazy because the vignettes from the Barefoot Girls' childhood doesn't really show anything alluding to her future craziness. It's really unfortunate that her husband never got her help before things ended the way that they did. 

Bottom line: This book has great writing that shines through.



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