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Thursday, June 4, 2009

Sullivan's Island by Dorothea Benton Frank~★★

Author: Dorothea Benton Frank
Title: Sullivan's Island
Release Date: January 6th, 2004
Publisher: Berkley Trade
Genre: Fiction

Book Cover: "Set in the steamy, stormy landscape of South Carolina, Sullivan's Island tells the unforgettable story of one woman's courageous journey toward the truth...
Born and raised on idyllic Sullivan's Island, Susan Hayes navigated through her turbulent childhood with humor, spunk, and characteristic Southern sass. But years later, she is a conflicted woman with an unfaithful husband, a sometimes resentful teenage daughter, and a heart that aches with painful, poignant memories. And as Susan faces her uncertain future, she realizes that she must go back to her past. To the beachfront house where her sister welcomes her with open arms. To the only place she can truly call home..."

Taryn's Review: I first read The Land of Mango Sunsets and Pawley's Island by Dorothea Benton Frank and liked them because they were simple to read and were a nice transition after reading some harsher topics. While I know they are cliched books, I found both books to be pleasantly entertaining.

Sullivan's Island did not live up to the expectation. It was jam-packed with too many storylines and I didn't find the main characters to be all that believable. Take for instance the lead, Susan Hayes. Married for at least 14 years, she walked in on her husband having sex with another woman in their bed. She seemed to take it rather well other than the initial shock. In fact, she later told her daughter that she neglected the marriage to an extent so maybe the affair shouldn't have been a surprise since the signs were there. Okay. Is that really justification for your husband cheating? Susan apparently doesn't eat much 6 months following the divorce and looks "fabulous" as everyone tells her. She also doesn't seem to really ever miss him, which she later chalked up to not "truly loving him." Easy, huh? In fact, Susan and her ex became good friends by the end of book. I know very, very, very few divorced couples who remain more than acquaintances after an affair, even when children are involved.

My other annoyance with the book was the description of Susan's daughter, Beth. Beth is 14 years old in 1999; so was I. And Beth's lexicon and tastes were not up to par with most other 14 year old girls living in the United States, in my opinion. Instant messaging and email were huge for us 14 year olds (and I grew up in a town of 600). Beth lived in Charleston, yet the internet is never mentioned...not even once. Beth also had a poster up of Grateful Dead in her room. Who? When I was 14, my friends and I loved NSync, Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears, and more. There is one point in the book where Beth is asked if she wants to do something and she says "Ab!" and her mother informs both the reader and her sister that Beth meant to say absolutely, but shortened it since that is what all the kids were doing. I've never heard anyone say "Ab" in my life, except when referring to stomach muscles.

This book was just such a smorgasbord of storylines that I got irritated. Livvie the Savior, Susan's father's affair, Susan's mother's depression, Susan's father's mysterious death, Susan's husband's affair and illness, Susan's hormone-riddled daughter, Susan's "perfect" sister, Susan's dysfunctional childhood, Susan's first true love, Susan's writing career, Susan's change, Susan the detective...honestly, it was too much.

Again, I enjoyed the author's other books that I have read, but this one just didn't do it for me.

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