Talk about dysfunctional families; Meghann Dontess's would surely be in the running for a top prize. Her actress mom, Eliana Sullivan, was incapable of raising kids so it was up to Meghann to care for her younger sister, Claire. Things got so bad, though, that Meghann was forced to track down Claire's biological father and ask for help. Sam Cavenaugh was delighted to discover he had a 9-year-old daughter, but not so happy to take on Meghann.

Today, Meghann is a 42-year-old, highly successful Seattle divorce attorney whose cynicism is a career plus. Claire lives in the small town of Hayden, WA, with her father and 5-year-old daughter Alison. When a client's husband nearly kills Meghann, all the stress she has been under comes to a head. Ordered to take a vacation, Meghann ponders what to do. Will this be an opportunity for these two estranged sisters to finally reconnect?

The bonds of sisterhood play a prominent role in this stimulating novel that also explores the ravages of guilt and despair. Author Kristin Hannah has really come into her own. (May, 400 pp., $23.95)

Reviewed by: 
Jill M. Smith