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By: Lisa Verge Higgins
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: 3/10/2015
My Rating: 4 Stars
A special thank you to Grand Central Publishing and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Lisa Verge Higgins returns to the favorite camp at Pine Lake with SENSELESS ACTS OF BEAUTY, a novel of three women – Riley, Sadie, and Tess all longing for permanence in their unsettled lives. A poignant exploration of motherhood-daughter relationships (adoptive and biological), and the bonds of friendship.
Tess – When the books opens Tess is a grown woman, making her way back to a place she swore she would never return. She has been driving an eighteen-wheeler for a living and residing in her cab, since her early days of living on the street. With no example of parenting, an alcoholic mother, and a horrific rape drove a teen away from this town years ago—with emotional and psychological trauma. Now circumstances are forcing her to return across the country, in order to ensure the safety of her daughter, once again. She gave up Sadie years ago, the daughter she loved, to protect her. Her secrets is she has been keeping tabs on her for the last fifteen years.
Sadie – A teen of age fifteen sets off to find her birth mother. The only thing she has to go on is a towel with a logo from Camp Kwenback, Pine River. Why did her mother give her away? Now her adoptive parents are dead, and her Nana has dementia, and she is determined to find her biological mother. She finds Riley the manager of the Camp, and they connect, after all Riley was also adopted. Sadie feels like she has no options until she is eighteen and she is not crazy about going back to her aunt’s house with a house full of kids.
Riley A high school friend of Tess, she has troubles of her own. Her biological mother wants nothing to do with her. She has no clue of her father, she has a failed marriage, and now the camp has financial problems and she does not have enough money to renovate. She is indecisive and feels like she is stuck with no way to move forward.
We hear from each woman-girl with their heartfelt troubled pasts, choices, and complex situations. Sadie has no clue Tess is her biological mother and Riley guesses. Tess has not had an easy life and her biggest fear is the man who raped her will find out he has a daughter, and Tess has spent her entire life keeping tabs on her daughter, from a distance, and she cannot let Sadie know about her conception.
Tess and Officer Rodriguez have a long and complicated relationship, from back in the day as a teen with her dysfunctional family home. Now, the same officer comes to rescue in order to help catch this man who ruined her life.
As mentioned in the novel, thirty-one states in the US have no current law preventing rapists from claiming parental rights to biological children from those assaults. This is my third book in a row about rapes: Those Girls, Breath of Scandal and now Senseless Acts of Beauty, of innocent teens experiencing rape and chose to have their baby, and a lifelong worry of keeping it a secret, scared their rapist could claim his child. So sad and heartbreaking.
Mother-daughter relationships a common theme with the dysfunction of Tess and her mother, the loving and fraught relationship between Riley and her adoptive mother, and of course the strained relationship between Tess and Sadie. Incredible insights into adoption, and the birth mother’s perspective, as well as the child later on, told with compassion and humor.
Loved the front cover and the choice of lodge, log cabin and the camp setting in the Adirondack Mountains. We all have fond memories of these days with vacationing in a rustic environment, surrounded by nature, new friends, old friends, and of course, there is always the warm personalities such as these grandparents, adding to the charm, drawing you back. I have a few of these much loved lodges in the North Georgia Mountains and the Catskills.
This was my first book by Higgins and was so intrigued, immediately purchased RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS,which I also enjoyed. Those who have read the first book, will enjoy catching up with familiar characters.
Fans of Kristin Hannah, Catherine Ryan Hyde, Luanne Rice, Susan Wiggs, and Emilie Richards will enjoy the author's style, and this beautifully written novel. Look forward to reading more!