Jacqueline's 40th birthday is looming, and life couldn't be more complicated. Divorced and trying to keep it together for her children, she can't shake deep-seated feelings of loneliness. Given a trip to Hawaii as a birthday gift by a close friend, she finds herself alone again when her friend cancels at the last minute.

While in paradise, Jackie meets Kai, a younger surf instructor who helps her shed her insecurities and makes her want to live for herself. After spending her last night in Hawaii with Kai, Jackie has a tough time leaving him behind. Making several visits back to visit him, she faces harsh judgments from her friends and her patronizing ex-husband.

This is an interesting coming-of-age story featuring a lonesome mother of two. It asks the questions, how much should we risk to find happiness, and is happiness even achievable in the long run? Reflections and repetitive observations threaten to bog down the plot, but Porter's characters save the day with true-to-life dialogue and, more important, true-to-life feelings. (Jul., 356 pp., $12.95)
Reviewed by: 
Lauren Spielberg