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The Guest Book (2012)

Macy is 24, a single mother (the baby daddy hit the road when daughter Emma was an infant), works as a clerk at a grocery store, and basically has her life's gear set on idle. She's in a perpetual state of waiting. She waits for Emma's father to come back (he does but is that what she wants?), she waits to get over her father's death 10 years ago, she waits for middle-of-the-night phone calls from her wayward older brother Max (he needs her to bail him out of one scrape after another), she waits for her mother to heal from grief, and she waits to find out the identity of The Artist, a boy with whom she began a correspondence of sorts in a beach cottage guest book when she was five. She drew a picture of some shells, and when she returned the following year, the boy had drawn her a picture. They exchange these drawings, along with photos of each other, for nine years. But with the death of Macy's father, going to the beach becomes too difficult for her mother, Max and her. Then Emma came along, and life sort of took off without Macy realising it. On the 10th anniversary of her father's death, Macy's mother announces that she has rented the cottage for two weeks. Macy greets the news with joy, if not a teensy bit of ambivalence. The baby daddy is back in her life, and she needs to decide what to do, and she's worried about the guest book. What happened to it? Can she find it? What happened to The Artist? This is a sweet, heartwarming book featuring rather chaste love scenes. Romance is almost beside the point here, anyway. What drives this book is Macy and her quest to be exceptional, even in a small way. (AP)

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