HOW I CAME TO SPARKLE AGAIN Kaya McLaren
St. Martin's Press (Hardcover)
Austin, Texas to Sparkle, Colorado Present day
Six weeks after her miscarriage, Jill Anthony returns to work, only to leave early, unable to cope with the stress. When she walks into her home to find her husband, David, in their bed with another woman, she's blinded by shock, wanting only to run. Even so, Jill has the presence of mind to snap a photograph before leaving the house without telling anyone she was there. Inconveniently, her Lexus dies, so she takes out a credit card and buys another car before pointing it in the direction of Sparkle, Colorado. Jill spent the best two years of her life in Sparkle after her Uncle Howard rescued her from her religiously zealous parents. Jill's best friend, Lisa Carlucci, just sent her a letter urging Jill to come home. It's an omen. So, with no change of clothes and just her purse, Jill drives straight to Colorado.
In the mountain town of Sparkle, Lisa Carlucci decides she needs more from life than a revolving door of male lovers. She feels empty. Lisa loves her job, and even though she wishes she could live year round in Sparkle, she cannot support herself on only six months of income, so, every summer like clockwork, she heads out to work as a park ranger in Montana. Her daily life is full, but Lisa longs for something. She would like one man to love but she doesn't want marriage. Marriage is just another way to tie a woman to the house and the children while the men get to play.
Ten-year-old Cassie Jones recently lost her mother to breast cancer. She's lonely, confused, and lost. An endless stream of babysitters doesn't help; Cassie thinks that she's old enough to take care for herself while her father works. Mike works twenty four hour shifts as a paramedic, and whether Cassie likes it or not, she will have an adult to watch her when he is not there.
Jill's Uncle Howard sacrificed two years of his life when he moved from the ski mountain into town so Jill could attend high school. When she went off to college and moved away, Howard moved back to the mountain where he can be right on hand to measure snow and turn in daily avalanche and temperature reports. Uncle Howard is a very wise man always true to his hippie-like roots, and Jill loves him far more than her judgmental parents. Uncle Howard gives advice and love unconditionally. All she ever gets from her parents are preachy emails telling her she must return to their faith if she wants to be part of their lives. She can do without that and without them.
HOW I CAME TO SPARKLE AGAIN is a delightful novel of life, lessons, and growth for a plethora of characters. Lisa wants to love someone; Jill is trying to pick up the pieces of a shattered life; and Cassie and Mike are struggling with grief. Jill quickly moves off of Lisa's sofa (which is the only space available while Lisa remodels her house) and into the Kennel, a ramshackle trailer that's home to the Cat Crew, Hans, Eric, and Tom. They groom the slopes every night, smoothing out the snow and getting ready for the next day of skiing. Jill moves into an empty bedroom, takes a job as a nurse in the emergency clinic, and babysits Cassie in her off hours while Mike is working.
HOW I CAME TO SPARKLE AGAIN is soul-satisfying treat for these long winter months!