LitStack Review: Evening Stars by Susan Mallery
Nina Wentworth lives on Blackberry Island, a small community off the coast of Washington. She’s a thirty-year-old nurse in a pediatrician’s office, but her dream is to be a doctor. That’s only the beginning of the sacrifices she has made as primary caretaker of her family.
Nina’s mother Bonnie gave birth to Nina at a young age and never truly grew up. Bonnie recognized later in life she is gay. She lives with her partner Bertie, who is the primary voice of reason throughout the story. Bonnie owns an antique shop on the island called Blackberry Preserves. She and Bertie travel frequently on buying trips.
Nina’s younger sister Averil, a writer for a teen-girl magazine and a wannabe novelist, lives several hours down the coast in the southern California town of Mischief Bay. She’s married to Kevin, a terrific husband. But the two are at odds because he’s ready to start a family and Averil is unsure. Like her mother, she struggles to accept responsibility and worries she wouldn’t be a good parent.
Nina is so busy taking care of everyone else, she hasn’t had time for a personal life in a decade. But her life begins to change when her old boyfriend – the man who broke her heart in college – comes back to town. Dylan has returned to the island to practice medicine with his father. He seems to be interested in getting to know Nina again, but she’s reluctant to open her heart, lest he hurt her again.
And then there’s Kyle, another man from her past who has returned to fulfill his childhood fantasy – Nina. Kyle is a military pilot with aspirations of joining the Blue Angels.
As if these two men don’t complicate Nina’s life enough, Averil returns to the island to work on her novel, escape her difficult marriage, and discover who she is. The whole family is together under one roof for the first time in many years, and it’s not pretty. They love each other dearly, but years of pent-up resentment prevent them from getting along well with each other.
The family members’ lives are completely turned upside down when they discover Bonnie owns a rare painting worth ten million dollars. They are all plagued by a myriad of life-changing questions and decisions. They must face their fears and accept facts about themselves they have been denying all their lives. Evening Stars is a well-written captivating story that illustrates how the choices we make define who we are and the course of our lives. Most importantly, the characters learn they are indeed free to choose and the choices are their own. Highly recommended for romance and women’s fiction readers.