The Never Never Sisters, the second novel by L. Alison Heller, was just the kind of women's fiction novel I like. It had a balance of light and heavy moments and the darker parts of the novel weren't dismal (I don't like being depressed when I read!). It was a good read.
Here's the synopsis:
Sometimes you just need to get away….
Marriage counselor Paige Reinhardt is counting down the days to summer, eager to reconnect with her workaholic husband at their cozy rental cottage in the Hamptons. But soon a mysterious crisis at Dave’s work ruins their getaway plans. Paige is still figuring out how to handle the unexplained chill in her marriage when her troubled sister suddenly returns after a two-decade silence. Now, instead of enjoying the lazy summer days along the ocean, Paige is navigating the rocky waters of a forgotten bond with her sister in the sweltering city heat.
As she attempts to dig deeper into Dave’s work troubles and some long-held family secrets, Paige is shocked to discover how little she knows about the people closest to her. This summer, the self-proclaimed relationship expert will grapple with her biggest challenge yet: Is it worth risking your most precious relationships in order to find yourself?
I really liked Paige. I was a little wary when I realized she was a marriage counsellor since most characters in that profession can be sort of insufferable. Thankfully, though, Paige wasn't at all annoying. She was real and, just like real people, was about to hit a real rough patch in her marriage. I liked how Heller approached Paige and Dave's issues. They weren't having your stereotypical problems and that made it fresh – though still sad to read about! They seemed like a really solid couple and I wanted things to work out for the best.
Paige and Dave's relationship could have been the only part to this novel but Heller wove in a really compelling story with Sloan – Paige's estranged sister. As much as I enjoyed reading about the sisters, I do think it could have been a little stronger with just a few more connections. I couldn't quite see how the two were bonding so well (though I was very happy they were!).
I found to be sort of odd that Paige's mother had her own chapters throughout the novel. It was confusing, especially when I got to the first "Vanessa" chapter heading and couldn't remember who that was. I suppose it was nice to get her viewpoints but I really didn't think those chapters added any value to the overall story. I found Vanessa's journal entries, from when Sloan was in rehab, more enlightening.
I think the best thing about the book was how Heller managed to surprise me with the ending. I really wasn't sure what was going to happen in the end and I loved that. There were surprises with Paige and Dave's relationship, his work, and Paige and Sloan's relationship. I'm really happy with the way things turned out – even if it may not have been the outcome I expected.
Overall, The Never Never Sisters was an enjoyable read. I think many others would really enjoy L. Alison Heller's novel but it wasn't one that will necessarily stick with me forever. It wasn't bad but it didn't stand out. I still think that you should check this one out if women's fiction is your go-to genre.