Olivia Hunt is a Hollywood producer who has just been fired after her last movie entitled Lyold the Hamster, tanked at the box office. To make matters worse, Olivia has been given her walking papers by her boyfriend, Michael. While wallowing in a heap of self pity, Olivia's younger sister Maddy has been diagnosed with leukemia. Olivia rushes home to Shawnee Falls, Ohio to be with her sister and her family as they struggle to process the devastating news. Olivia and Maddie have always been close, although their lives are radically different. While Olivia has been wheeling and dealing in Hollywood, Maddie has married a stable and loving guy and settled down in their hometown of Shawnee Falls. While Olivia is a cynic, Maddie is an optimist. Despite the grim news, Maddie firmly believes she will successfully battle the leukemia. As Olivia provides her sister a shoulder to lean on, Maddie challenges her older sister to chase her dreams and produce the film she has always dreamed of making, despite the odds being stacked against her. As Maddie fights to beat leukemia, memories of the past exploits of the Hunt sisters serve as vivid reminders of the tight bond between Olivia and Maddie.
This report prepared by Sandra Calhoune
Little, Brown, Jan 2004, 23.95, 327 pp.
Thirty-four year-old movie producer Olivia Hunt is struggling to put together a deal to develop an adaptation of Don Quixote when she receives the devastating news that her younger sister, Madeline, has leukemia. She is stunned because unlike herself Madeline seemed contented with her recent marriage and living in their hometown of Shawnee Falls, Ohio.
Olivia begins flying back and forth between visits to her sibling and the Southern California movie industry. On the flights she writes letters reflecting on life decisions she has made. She ponders about the wisdom of choosing a career over love when Madeline's health proves how ephemeral life is. As she considers running off to New Mexico to be with her only true love and while her sister's health deteriorates, Olivia has the opportunity of a lifetime filming Don Quixote in Spain. Will she choose love in New Mexico or sisterly love in Ohio or overseas fulfilling her greatest fantasy?
This contemporary work of fiction is a tremendous character driven tale that enables the audience to see deep into the heart and soul of the lead character, and through her also those individuals in her circle. Though clearly a major tearjerker, the tale keeps from falling into a sappy soap by Elisabeth Robinson's skillful handling of Madeline's illness as a focus of activity by friends and family in which at times the same person will do something gallant followed by frustrated selfishness and guilt. Thus the support cast seems very real, but the tale is clearly owned by Olivia, who displays the dichotomous traits of cynical concern that readers will appreciate while empathizing for her sister.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner