THE DAYS OF SUMMER
Barnett's poignant tale spans almost five decades as the lives of two families intersect. In 1957, Rudy Banning and his talented artist wife, Rachel, die in a car accident in L.A. The mishap also kills Jimmy Peyton, a 26-year-old rock star. Rudy and Rachel's young sons, Jud and Cale, go to live with their grandfather, a wealthy and ruthless businessman. And Jimmy's young daughter, Laurel, lives with her mother Kathryn, who remains devastated by Jimmy's death.
Fast forward to 1970. Kathryn and Laurel are living on Catalina Island. Jud and Cale have a home there also. Laurel and Cale meet, and the attraction between them is swift and sure. But Cale will soon attend medical school while Laurel studies at a culinary academy. Cale's grandfather discourages his involvement with Laurel, believing she will distract the boy from his education. When Jud and Laurel meet, their emotional connection forever alters the relationship between Jud, Cale and Laurel.
As the three reconnect nearly three decades later, secrets of the past are revealed. The inter-relationships between the characters are believable, emotional and express the maturity that each has found over the years while hinting at the scars they bear from the tragedy of their last parting. Barnett's expert plotting and skillful storytelling make this a novel to be savored. (Jun., 368 pp., $24.95)