KINDRED SPIRITS is a book that will stay with you long after you've finished it. Filled with emotion (keep a box of tissues by your side), it's a story of friendship and loyalty, and what four friends go through when one of them loses her battle with cancer.
Carol, Mary Kay and Beth --- the three people closest to Lynne --- go on an adventure they will never forget, and it's all because of their love for a woman who changed their lives. Readers are introduced to Lynne in the very first chapter, which is beautifully written and gives us a sense of calm. It's a lovely fall afternoon in New England; the leaves are turning, and change is in the air. We feel that Lynne is in a good place. She's humming to herself "Girls just want to have fun." She's cleaning the house, getting rid of things she no longer needs, thinking of the future she will not have and the grandchildren she will never know.
KINDRED SPIRITS had me in tears, but it also made me smile.
And, with a blink of an eye, she's gone.
Lynne has left one last request for her friends, a somewhat daunting task. In a letter that was to be opened by the three women upon her death, she reveals a huge secret that no one knows --- not even her husband. Now is the time for things to be made right, and she knows she can count on her best friends. This secret, once it comes out in the open, will change the lives of many, including those closest to Lynne. It's a secret that should have come out years ago, but for many different reasons, Lynne kept it to herself, never confiding in anyone. It's up to the three ladies to bring things full circle.
While they are reunited in their quest to complete Lynne's dying wishes, they look back on the years they spent together and the death that brought them back together again. They also reflect on the relationships with their families, their husbands or boyfriends, and consider their own secrets --- secrets that should come out in order to make things right. Lynne's death is a catalyst that forces them to fix what is wrong in their own lives.
Sarah Strohmeyer has come a long way from her Bubbles days. While I have always loved a fun, lighthearted romp, my favorite type of book is one that makes me feel emotions that are strong and deep. KINDRED SPIRITS had me in tears, but it also made me smile. While the themes are of loss and friendship, it's not a dark book by any means. There are plenty of fun moments and laughter. I really loved the road trip the three friends take in order to fulfill Lynne's last wishes.
If you are lucky enough to pick up this book, savor it as you read it. I suggest having a martini by your side in honor of the four women of KINDRED SPIRITS, and possibly trying one or two of the recipes that are scattered throughout --- if you love martinis, that is --- courtesy of "The Ladies Society for the Conservation of Marshfield, 1966."
Footnote: I think the story has even more meaning, knowing that Strohmeyer wrote it after being inspired by her neighbor and friend, who also had fought a battle with cancer.
Reviewed by Marie Hashima Lofton on July 4, 2011