Desert Isle Keeper
Always the Last to Know
Kristan Higgins’ most recent offering, Always the Last to Know, is a pitch-perfect picture of a family in crisis. That might sound a bit depressing, but Higgins is able to infuse the story with exactly the right amount of humor which, while not necessarily going to cause you to laugh out loud, will at the very least raise a few chuckles a few times as you read.
John and Barb Frost have been married for fifty years, and while they’re not madly in love the way Barb once thought they were, she considered them to be pretty happy, or, at least, she wants people to view them that way. Really though, Barb is ready to bid married life farewell. At seventy, she’s finally decided to divorce John and tackle life on her own terms. She knows this will come as a shock to their daughters, but she can’t bear the thought of staying married to John for any longer. They just aren’t connected anymore, and Barb wants a chance to find some kind of happiness for herself. She’s not sure what that will look like, but the prospect excites her.
Then, just as she’s gotten up the courage to tell John she’s leaving, she gets a phone call from a nearby hospital, informing her that John has suffered a massive stroke and might not survive. Of course, she rushes to his side where she is eventually joined by their daughters Juliet and Sadie. The three women wait for news, each battling her own complex feelings about their family unit and how John’s stroke will impact their futures.
Juliet adores her mother, but has never been close to her father. In fact, she’s come pretty close to hating him over the past few months, and she’s not sure whether or not to share these feelings with Barb. It feels wrong to drop the bombshell of John’s secret affair at a time like this, and yet, the thought of not revealing the truth doesn’t sit well with her.
For her part, younger daughter Sadie has idolized John since she was a small child. She’s never gotten along particularly well with Barb or Juliet, but John was always her rock. With his health so obviously on the line, Sadie is forced to re-evaluate everything she thought she knew both about her family and herself.
The three Frost women are strong and resilient, each with distinct strengths and weaknesses that make them feel incredibly life-like. Their relationships with one another are pretty messy, but the same can be said for mothers, daughters, and sisters everywhere. Kristan Higgins manages to get into the hearts and minds of these characters in such an intense way, bringing their gifts and vulnerabilities to light in a way very few authors can.
There’s so much love in this book, but not the sweet, pure kind that exists in fairytales. Juliet is married with two daughters, and she worries her husband might one day decide to leave her for someone more laid-back and fun-loving. Sadie has been in what she considers a serious relationship for the past couple of years, but when her father’s illness forces her to move back to her hometown for the summer, she comes face-to-face with the guy whose heart she broke shortly after they graduated from high school. Both sisters have some tough questions to answer about who they really are and how they want their lives to go, and those answers don’t always come easily. This novel is chock full of emotions, some pleasant and some not, but each and every one is handled with sensitivity and grace.
If you’re tired of stories about beautiful people living beautiful lives, Always the Last to Know could be the perfect book for you. As always, Kristan Higgins pays tribute to women everywhere, celebrating both their achievements and their struggles. It was so easy for me to relate to these characters since their circumstances were similar to those in my own life as well as the lives of the women I love. This story really does contain a little of something for everyone, making it a book I’m thrilled to recommend to women everywhere.