Review

How I Came to Sparkle Again

by Kaya McLaren

Nurse Jill Anthony is having a day that defines the word "nightmare." She has just returned to her job after recuperating from a miscarriage. She believed she was ready to work at the hospital again, but she just can’t handle it. Her supervisor sends her home, and that is when, four blocks from her house, her car dies. Dressed in stork-printed scrubs that appear to be pajamas, she walks home, crying all the way. She approaches her house, ready to be comforted by familiar surroundings, but instead she finds her husband in bed with another woman. David can't see his wife, but she can definitely see him. She even snaps a photo of him with her phone before she leaves her would-be sanctuary of a home, with one thought in her mind: "Run."

"This page-turner frequently made me laugh out loud, yet it also managed to tug at my rather-jaded heartstrings. A true pleasure!"

In a shocked state, wondering if her life is now beyond repair, Jill calls a mechanic to repair her car. The bad news continues; he can't fix her vehicle until he orders a part. She walks along the road, wondering what to do, when she meanders across a used car lot. Soon she is driving toward home, though she does not consider "home" to be where her parents are living. Instead, she is drawn toward her good friend Lisa, who lives in Sparkle, the Colorado ski town in which she had spent the two best years of her childhood, living with her beloved Uncle Howard.

In Sparkle, 10-year-old Cassie Jones can't sleep. She has soaked her pillowcase with tears for her mother, who died after a battle with cancer. Now she burrows into her mother's bathrobe and handles the collection of heart-shaped rocks they found together, along with the ones she found after her mother died, when she could hear her mother's voice whisper, "Look down." Cassie no longer enjoys her life; she just endures it.

Just a few blocks away, Jill's friend Lisa is battling her own sorrows. Lisa pretends to be asleep while her latest sleep-over hastily sneaks out. Suddenly she is weary of the life she is leading. She doesn't want to get married, having seen too many unhappy wives, but she doesn't want to continue with her string of superficial bedroom-only relationships. Something must change.

When I read the description of this book, I simply knew it was not for me. The here's-yet-another-romance set-up (beautiful, spurned young woman returns home and encounters handsome widowed man with lovable child) sounded awfully familiar; I was convinced I could predict every turn. So, when I was asked to review it, I settled in for an underwhelming experience. And….

I was so wrong! This plot approach may have been used before, but author Kaya McLaren puts a fresh spin on it, turning it into a delightful read that offers some truly thought-provoking moments, along with the love story element. The main characters are multi-dimensional, real (which is to say, imperfect but likable) females anyone would enjoy getting to know. Many of the secondary characters are also spot-on and true-to-life, particularly the irreverent, immature, hilarious guys living in the pot-scented hovel known as "The Kennel." The plot moves along quickly and is, thankfully, not always predictable. (One note: If you happen to be a member of the LDS church, you are likely to have issues with Jill's comments about it.)

This page-turner frequently made me laugh out loud, yet it also managed to tug at my rather-jaded heartstrings. A true pleasure!

Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon on October 12, 2012

How I Came to Sparkle Again
by Kaya McLaren

  • Publication Date: October 1, 2013
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
  • ISBN-10: 1250000742
  • ISBN-13: 9781250000743