One Summer

David Baldacci, Author
David Baldacci, Grand Central, $25.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-446-58314-5
Reviewed on: 02/28/2011
Release date: 06/01/2011
Legal thriller fixture Baldacci (Deliver Us from Evil) churns out a creaky, contrived family drama about Jack Armstrong, a terminally ill family man just praying to make it to Christmas. Sadness abounds, much more so when Jack's wife, Lizzie, is killed in a car wreck while on a medicine run. Plans are made by Jack's mean mother-in-law Bonnie: the three kids will get divided up among aunts and uncles across the country, and Jack will be put into hospice. Miraculously, Jack's health turns around, and he's able to reclaim his kids and move the brood from Ohio to the South Carolina shore where Lizzie grew up. There, he tries to reassemble the family and learn how to be a single parent, and just as they're beginning to settle into a functional family again, Bonnie sues for custody of the kids. Yes, it possesses all the subtlety of a dog fight, but it's also choked with pap ("No matter what you do, no matter how hard you fight, life sometimes just doesn't make sense") and so sappy you'd think Baldacci was earning a commission on each tear jerked. (June)
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