In Safe Harbour, California, for the summer, 11-year-old Pip Mackenzie brings together two people in need of companionship when she befriends reclusive artist Matt Bowles, who's still not over his wife leaving him for his best friend, and her mother, Ophelie, who is still grieving the deaths of Pip's older brother, Chad, and her father, Ted. Both died in a plane crash 10 months prior.
Ophelie and Matt cautiously embark on a friendship, and Ophelie begins to put her life back together. When she and Pip return home to San Francisco, Ophelie even volunteers at a homeless shelter.
Hopeful about her long-distance friendship with Matt, Ophelie is shaken when she makes some startling discoveries concerning her deceased husband and she learns that Matt's wife suddenly seems to be back in the picture.
True to Steel's usual format, the angst experienced by Matt and Ophelie threatens to destroy their burgeoning relationship, leaving the reader to wonder at their possible future together. Fans and newcomers will be pleased that these characters are very down to earth, making Safe Harbour seem more realistic than her previous novels. (Nov., 322 pp., $26.95)