This intriguing novel is, basically, a family drama about the trouble four teenage girls from the Central Valley of California cause when they make some poor decisions. As with most teens, the trouble comes in the form of boys, sex, drugs, and/or alcohol. “After all,” they reason, school’s almost over and they want to have “the best summer ever.”
But this powerful story is much more than that. It’s also about the struggles their mothers face as they attempt to help their daughters; a story of strong, single mothers from diverse backgrounds and education bonding together in times of need.
“An Accidental Life” opens with Karin Larson, the main character, asking herself some hard questions about life; lately she’s become a little disenchanted with her heavy responsibilities and elusive social life. Her career as a social worker–helping families in crisis–as rewarding as it is, often drains Karin, but she manages the fine balance of raising her teen-age daughter Bridget alone. They have a close mother-daughter relationship.
At the time Karin is thinking of “dating” again, Bridget is expanding her circle of friends, seeking a little more independence. Little does Karin know her life is about to get more complicated as author Laurel-Rain Snow seamlessly blends the teens’ trauma with Karin’s
coworkers’ problems and some exciting adventures with her “cases” at work.
What happens to Bridget’s new friend Savannah is the first disaster in a string of disasters that escalate to form this multi-faceted story. Why can’t Savannah’s mother help her? And what happen to the other girls, Bree, Wendy, and Bridget? Are any of the teen boys “stand-up” kind of guys? Can they help? Do they help? Will Karin and the others, including several of the boys’ parents, be able to help them get their lives back on track and go on to brighter futures?
I particularly enjoy one of the boy’s mothers, Melody, but this book is sprinkled with so many warm, troubled, colorful characters that I empathized with them all. They enliven the pages,
keeping the reader eagerly anticipating the next exciting event.
In addition to the teens’ problems, there are several adult romances, and I admire the author’s restraint in keeping the love scenes discreet. Admirably done, Laurel-Rain Snow!
And in another surprising twist, there’s a serial-killer on the loose, stalking Molly, one of Karin’s young, lovely co-workers. This is a truly exciting part of this novel: I couldn’t wait to learn his identity and motivation. What a creep!
All in all, I love this book. Laurel-Rain Snow is a gifted writer who understands the human psyche with all its foibles. To be completely honest, I have one minor complaint, which may
not bother others. The slight flaw, IMHO, is that some of the descriptions of decor and clothing are too long and happen too often, interfering with the flow of the story. As a result I didn’t get into the characters for about the first fifty pages. Am I ever glad I didn’t quit because when this author hooked me, her riveting words and realistic characters held me tight … until I floated back to reality at the satisfying ending of this powerful drama.
I enthusiastically recommend this heart-warming tale of real people with real problems … people just like you and me … or someone we know.
Reviewed by: Betty Dravis, October, 2008
author of 1106 Grand Boulevard