Journalist Shelby Lazarus gets a phone call one day from her sister Lauren. That can mean only one thing: bad news. She's told their father and stepmother were hit by a car and may not survive. Shelby and Lauren's mother, Sandy, died from cancer years ago, and she's been trying to set Shelby straight and put the family back together by tinkering with things from the afterlife. Shelby reluctantly goes home to face her demons and gets a lot more than she bargained for, including a plea from her sister to be a surrogate mother and the chance to reunite with her long-lost childhood sweetheart.

Though a curmudgeon, Shelby is likable—kind of like Oscar the Grouch. On the other hand, Lauren is an irritating idiot. Rosenberg's snappy writing style is extremely readable, but she has a tendency to create big messes that are cleaned up too easily. Still, a pleasant read and a promising debut. (Dec., 336 pp., $13.95)

Reviewed by: 
Samantha J. Gust