The setting for A BETTER VIEW OF PARADISE for me was like a character as it was so important to the story. In this emotionally charged story, author Randy Sue Coburn tells of very basic human feelings as she explores love and forgiveness, that so often go hand in hand. Even when all else seems to have failed and we have closed out hearts, a spark of optimistic fire can burn and open our hearts once again.
This is the story of Stevie Pollack, a thirty-six year old successful landscape architect who grew up in Hawaii. Stevie suddenly finds her mainland world falling apart all at once as in Chicago, her normally well received naturally exotic work is shunned and her latest project is a failure. While in Chicago another piece of her world shifts when her cousin, Margo, tells her that Stevie's dad, Hank, has a sister that Stevie never knew about. All this is too much and so Stevie returns to New York to find comfort in the arms of her boyfriend, only to have him add the final straw by breaking up with her.
Stevie struggles with where to go from here. She wants to naturally race home to what normally would be a safe place for most, but for Stevie it is complicated. She hasn't seen her father for a long time, and at best, their relationship was one that was always problematic. However, she decides to give it a try and when she arrives her lovely islands aren't enough to turn things around as she discovers her father is dying. However, learning more about Hank then she knew before from Margo, helps Stevie to try to make a go of it. She finds herself back thinking about having grown up with her fairly stoic mother and her dad who when Stevie said it was hot, he would say it was cold. Stevie allows the magical beauty of the island to color her world and she becomes more reflective and tolerant. It doesn't hurt that she takes in a stray pup that would melt anyone's heart and then rediscovers a friend from her youth, who is not a veterinarian. He, Japhy, becomes more than just a doctor for a pup. The setting, as I said, is like a character as it weaves its magic and makes its mark on Stevie's world.
The beauty of the islands, the change that takes place in Stevie and her father's relationship, as well as Stevie's love life are not unexpected but rather satisfying when they all come together the way we would hope they would. Fans of a good, well written character driven emotional tale will enjoy A BETTER VIEW OF PARADISE and be cheering for Stevie and praising author Randy Sue Coburn.
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