Tuesday, June 28, 2011

One Summer, by David Baldacci

You're traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That's the signpost up ahead - your next stop, the Twilight Zone! - Opening narration, Season Two. *cue spooky music* 

It doesn't look like a science fiction novel.  The azure waters, the peaceful beach, the classic lighthouse - not your typical sci-fi setting.

It doesn't sound like a science fiction novel.

It's almost Christmas, but there is no joy in the house of terminally ill Jack and his family. With only a short time left to live, he spends his last days preparing to say goodbye to his devoted wife, Lizzie, and their three children. Then, unthinkably, tragedy strikes again: Lizzie is killed in a car accident. With no one able to care for them, the children are separated from each other and sent to live with family members around the country. Just when all seems lost, Jack begins to recover in a miraculous turn of events. He rises from what should have been his deathbed, determined to bring his fractured family back together. Struggling to rebuild their lives after Lizzie's death, he reunites everyone at Lizzie's childhood home on the oceanfront in South Carolina. And there, over one unforgettable summer, Jack will begin to learn to love again, and he and his children will learn how to become a family once more.
But there's something spooky going on.  Somewhere between the lines of this story, the man on the left, David Baldacci - Master of Espionage and Intrigue - was overcome by his doppleganger, Tear-Jerker Extraordinaire Nicholas Sparks (right).  I had no idea that these two famous authors were actually one man with a split personality.

Yes, of course I'm joking.  This isn't One Life to Live, after all.   But, this was certainly not the book I was expecting from Baldacci.  Even in light of the cover art and synopsis, I still harbored a small delusion that Jack's miracle cure would turn out to be a terrorist plot, or that his mother-in-law was, in fact, a communist assassin.  But no.

This book is exactly what it appears to be - a "beautifully told story" about the "pathways of the human heart" and being "healed by love" - at least according to the trio of famous authors with blurbs on the back cover.   If you are a Sparks fan, or just like a good cry, you'll love it.   Even though I'm not a fan of the genre, it's got some twists that make it unique, and I'll even admit to tearing up near the end.  Worth your time on a slow, summer afternoon.