HarperCollins, Jan 2003, 13.95, 336 pp.
In Long Island Lauren tells her older sister Shelby Lazarus, a Chicago Tribune reporter, that their parents were critically injured while jogging. Shelby, estranged from the family for two years, does not want to return home, but reluctantly does. In heaven the girls' mom had intervened with the estrangement by causing the crisis, but did not mean for her husband and his second wife (her sister) to be severely injured. Still, Shelby is coming home.
Shelby notices that Aunt Roz (she cannot call her mom) has kept all her childhood awards and meets Lauren's second husband even as she wonders when her sister married. Lauren asks Shelby to come see their parents, but Shelby has never stepped inside a hospital since her mother died three decades ago. She learns that Lauren is a DES baby who cannot conceive a child when her sibling asks Shelby to become a surrogate mother. As other secrets are revealed that hurt everyone, even Shelby's mother realizes that her beloved family may need a higher level of heavenly intervention if they are to share a loving future together.
A LITTLE HELP FROM ABOVE is a whimsical look at serious modern day women's issues. Shelby is an interesting character though she “kvetches” too much while the strong support cast deals with too many different crises so that none fully retain audience empathy. In her debut, Saralee Rosenberg shows plenty of talent with a plot that will leave her audience wanting similar tales (with less baggage) while wishing her mazel tov with her career.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner