THE BREAKDOWN LANE

Author(s): 
Mitchard again proves her mastery as a storyteller with the paperback release of this emotional novel. Julieanne is on the brink of some major life changes. Her husband of many years, Leo, has taken a sabbatical from his life with her and their three children. A former New York City ballerina, Julieanne now lives in Wisconsin, writing a tell-it-like-it-is advice column for a local Sheboygan newspaper.

With her husband incommunicado, Julieanne discovers that she has multiple sclerosis and very little income. There is no hiding the disease from her children, and they must find a way to come to terms with this latest chapter in their lives.

This is a wonderful novel with true-to-life characters and sensational dialogue. Mitchard doesn't let her characters wallow in despair, even when they're forced to tackle Odysseus-sized obstacles. Told in alternating chapters from Julieanne's and her eldest son Gabe's perspective, this novel paints an entire family portrait, from Julieanne and Leo's first meeting to his eventual disinterest in their marriage, all the way to Julieanne's diagnosis, the inevitable fallout and the way each member of the family -- even Leo -- starts to pick up the pieces. Most telling is the fact that there are no bad guys in the end -- just multifaceted and very human characters. (Apr., 464 pp., $7.99)
Reviewed by: 
Lauren Spielberg