Title:  Once in a Blue Moon
Author:  Eileen Goudge
Release date:  October 6, 2009
Publisher:  Vanguard Press
Pages:  336
Genre:  Adult fiction, Women’s fiction
Source:  Publisher, TLC Book Tours

Sisters Lindsay and Kerrie Ann had an extremely difficult childhood with their drug-addicted, stripper mother.  But when Lindsay was twelve and Kerrie Ann three, their mother was put in jail and the girls went on to be raised in separate homes.  Lindsay was lucky enough to be adopted by a wonderful couple, who loved her like she had always been a part of their family.  Now, twenty years later, Lindsay is living in her parents’ old house (they have since passed away), running a bookstore, when Kerrie Ann suddenly shows up.  Turns out Kerrie Ann had a much more difficult childhood – bouncing from foster home to foster home until running away, getting into drugs, and having a daughter with a man even less responsible than Kerrie Ann herself.  Now that the sisters are reunited, they must find a way to become a family again.

I love family stories, and I love stories about women’s relationships, so I knew going into Once in a Blue Moon that the premise was perfect for me.  And I’m happy to report that the book really lived up to my expectations – I ended up completely engrossed in this novel, emotionally invested in the story, and unable to put it down.

The biggest strength in this novel is in its characters.  They could have turned into complete stereotypes – the “good” sister (Lindsay) and the “bad” sister (Kerrie Ann), but they weren’t.  They both made mistakes, they both made good choices, and overall they were two very realistic characters.  I especially expected Kerrie Ann to be a stereotypical drug addict, terrible mother, selfish person – but she really had heart.  She was a person who’d been given a lot to overcome in her life, and she certainly messed up in a lot of ways, but her heart was always in the right place.  No matter what, she loved her daughter with her whole self, and she also truly wanted to get to know and love her sister too.  Lindsay was the same way – I expected her to be so perfect, to do everything that was expected of her, yet she made some interesting choices along the way.  She didn’t always support Kerrie Ann like she should have, and she made a few selfish moves that I wasn’t expecting.  But the point is that both women were crafted so honestly, so realistically – as flawed women, like we all truly are.

I like that Goudge was able to live up to my expectations with this novel, while also taking it places I wasn’t expecting.  Obviously I won’t go into spoilers here, but I was really happy with how things ended, and I was more than a little surprised by some of the plot events towards the end of the novel.  Pleasantly surprised, I might add.

Once in a Blue Moon is an intricate family drama story that centers on two extremely well-written characters.   The book sort of reminded me of something that Kristin Hannah or Barbara Delinsky would write, only better.  There is a depth to this novel that I wasn’t really prepared for, and I’m thrilled that I got the chance to read it.  Fans of women’s fiction definitely need to give Once in a Blue Moon a try.