cover image The First Day of the Rest of My Life

The First Day of the Rest of My Life

Cathy Lamb. Kensington, $15 trade paper (421p) ISBN 978-0-7582-5938-7

Successful life coach Madeline O'Shea is close to her sister, Annie, and her grandparents, whose long love and active sex life inspire her. But Madeline and her sister are both shaped by early abuse at the hands of their stepfather and two of his friends. When the young Madeline told her mother, who was terminally ill, the men were brought to trial. But they were handed a light sentence, so her mother shot them dead%E2%80%94right in the courtroom. Madeline has tried to bury the violent past, and the guilt she feels for failing to protect her sister from abuse, but the arrival of a reporter, who wants to write an "anniversary of the shooting" piece, brings it all back and tips off a blackmailer in possession of old photos taken by the molesters. This in turn prompts Madeline's grandfather to come clean about his own past and long-held lies that affect Madeline and her sister. Lamb's latest (after Henry's Sisters) is a mixed bag: dialogue can be banal, and prose largely perfunctory. But the complicated plot is surprisingly cogent, characters are well-drawn (particularly the grandparents), and extreme subjects, like molestation and Jewish persecution during WWII, are handled with a measure of sentiment. (Aug.)