Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Heart's Desire - Laura Pedersen

Heart’s Desire
Laura Pedersen
Ballantine Books


Hallie Palmer returns in this second novel, and she’s just finished her first year of college. She’s back in her Ohio hometown with two all-consuming goals. Use her prodigious gambling skills to win next year’s tuition, and lose her virginity. While, in other circumstances, these goals might seem a bit distasteful in a teenaged girl, Hallie is smart enough to do a lot of thinking about the question of sex versus love.

She moves back in with the Stocktons, only to find that, while Rocky the chimp is still in residence, a lot has changed since she’s been at school. Family matriarch, Olivia, has a new obsession and a live-in lover. Hallie’s legal guardian, Bernard, is devastated over his breakup with partner Gil. Back at her parents’ home, her mother wants Hallie’s help dealing with her younger sister, who is getting into the party lifestyle. With only a summer to resolve all of this, Hallie is going to need all the smarts and drive she can muster.

As a follow-up to BEGINNER’S LUCK, I’m not sure how well this would fare as a stand-alone, since much of the character development takes place in that first novel, but the author does give essential background information for new readers. Remember that fine line I talked about in the last review? Sadly, in this installment, some characters stomp over that line into too-zany-ville a few too many times. For me, that makes this book just a bit less-good than the first. On the very positive side, it’s great to see Hallie begin to mature; and her love for both families is evident. The included discussion guide makes this a natural for reading groups.

Rating: 7
July 2005
ISBN# 0-345-57955-6 (trade paperback)


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