Friday, December 10, 2010

[Book Review] TWO DAUGHTERS by Marlene Fanta Shyer


Andrea reviews TWO DAUGHTERS by Marlene Fanta Shyer (Kensington, 2002)

At first glance, the Ehrlichs look like the perfect family. Peter Ehrlich is a brilliant cardiologist and his wife, Libby, is a successful antique dealer. Sixteen-year-old daughter, Claudia, is a beautiful heartbreaker, and younger daughter Ellery is coming of age, ready to get out of her older sister’s shadow.
Once readers get past the façade of this family, they realize each of the Ehrlichs has a dark secret. Dr. Peter is a recovering alcoholic whose father drank himself to death. Libby, feeling the strain from trying to be perfect and neglected due to her husband’s drinking, has an affair with a home improvement contractor. As beautiful as Claudia is, she has a way of attracting the wrong type of guys.

Salvatore di Buono is Claudia’s boyfriend at the beginning of the novel. After deliberate questions and careless confessions, the Elrichs find out Salvatore (or Ess as he is called) is 23 years old! Knowing Ess is too old for Claudia, her parents forbid the two from seeing each other. Claudia is able to move on and start dating someone new, but Ess still wants to be part of the Elrich family dynamic. Dr. and Mrs. Elrich notice him driving by their house at odd hours, along with him making drunken phone calls in the middle of the night.

While the older couple is vacationing abroad, the worst happens. Ess visits Ellery, since her older sister won’t have anything to do with him. Grateful for the attention and believing Ess loves her, 12-year-old Ellery gets pregnant. Of course, Peter and Libby are devastated and try to convince Ellery that abortion is the only answer. Ellery, Ess, and his family strongly oppose this, since Ess wants to marry Ellery and raise the baby together at his parents’ house.

This book will make you laugh, cry, as well as question your beliefs. You’ll wonder, is a 12 year old is capable of love or making adult decisions? You’ll ponder, why would a 23-year-old man want to be with a 12-year-old girl? Most of all, you’ll question if Peter and Libby are overbearing, or just trying to protect their teenaged daughters.

This is a brilliant novel by Marlene Fanta Shyer, and it definitely will provoke some strong emotions.

Andrea King, Poplar-White Station

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