cover image The Lifeguards

The Lifeguards

Amanda Eyre Ward. Ballantine, $28 (336p) ISBN 978-0-593-15944-6

Ward (The Jetsetters) delivers an arresting story of three Austin, Tex., mothers whose teenage sons find a dead woman on the first night of summer. Liza Bailey, single mom to Charlie, has found safety in the “rich mom circle” even though she’s scraping by to live in wealthy Barton Hills as she contends with her comparatively more humble origins and Charlie searches for his father. Annette Fontenot, who was born in Mexico and educated at UT Austin, works toward passing her citizenship test as she attempts to placate her white husband’s masculine expectations of their son, Robert, and find some genuine happiness. Whitney Brownson appears to have the perfect life with beautiful twins, Xavier and Roma, and a thriving real estate business, but she, too, has cracks in her own foundation. Something seems off about the boys’ story of finding the body, and as the police investigate and the moms lawyer up, each woman must decide between friendship and family. Ward does a good job exploring her characters and keeping the reader guessing, though some of the twists and coincidences border on forced. Still, like a cool lake on a hot day, this story hits the spot. Agent: Michelle Tessler, Tessler Literary. (Apr.)