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Rise and Shine, By Anna Quindlen

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Quindlen, A. (2006). Rise and shine. New York: Random House.

Paperback $14.95, Kindle $9.99, 269 pages

ISBN: 978-0375502248

Author’s Website and Interviews:

http://annaquindlen.net/

http://www.bookbrowse.com/author_interviews/full/index.cfm/author_number/293/anna-quindlen

Online Reviews:

The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/26/books/26mcge.html?_r=0

Annotation: Meghan Fitzmaurice is the epitome of success until two words destroy the world she has worked so hard to maintain. 

Summary (WARNING-Spoiler Alert): Meghan Fitzmaurice is the beloved talk show host of the morning show “Rise and Shine.”  Bridget, Meghan’s younger sister, is a social worker in the Bronx who deals with abuse, poverty, and drugs on a daily basis. Meghan’s career and life are dramatically altered while interviewing Brian Greenstreet, a man who left his infertile wife to be with their pregnant surrogate, and she drops an obscenity when they go to commercial break. However, her microphone is still live and her misstep is captured for the world to see. This seemingly small “accident” quickly tarnishes Meghan’s persona and she seeks refuge in Jamaica away from the spotlight and her family. Leaving no forwarding phone number or address, Bridget becomes concerned when she is unable to track down her sister. She also learns from Evan, Meghan’s husband, that they have decided to separate, a fact Meghan had failed to share with her sister. Bridget finally learns of her sisters location and after receiving word from her sister via facsimile, she leaves for Jamaica to check on her. When she arrives, she finds that Meghan has been completely transformed and no longer resembles her old self. Meghan hesitates to return to New York, knowing what awaits her upon her return. If she leaves the sanctuary of Jamaica, she must face the harsh truths about her career and her marriage.

Evaluation: I thought the author did a great job of portraying the relationship between sisters and how they both coped with hardships. Bridget and Meghan are complex and layered characters and I felt that their dialogue painted a very realistic portrayal of  the role of women as sisters, mothers, and wives and the challenges they face in each of these roles. I did feel at times that Bridget’s flashbacks of her life growing up and the many parties she attended along side her sister were redundant and didn’t really move the story forward. They did provide some insight into why Meghan and Bridget developed the relationship they had but apart from that I found it a bit dry. It was an extremely quick read and I was a little surprised that the author chose to end the book they way she did. It was a tad bit predictable but overall I found the book engaging and well-written.  A must read for those interested in women’s fiction.

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Appeal Factors: Character-driven, leisurely-paced, witty, compelling, and humorous

Read-alike Titles and Authors:

  • Sisterland, by Curtis Sittenfeld
  • Home Safe, by Elizabeth Berg
  • Babylon Sisters, by Pearl Cleage

Awards: No awards are available for this book.

Booktalk Ideas:

  • Ask questions that evoke an empathetic response from the reader/audience. Put them in one of the character’s shoes. Ex. Bridget after finding out she is pregnant and Meghan after her incident on live television.

Book Discussion Questions:

  1. Why does Meghan change her appearance in Jamaica? What does this say about her feelings towards her life in New York?
  2.  How does their mother’s death shape their relationship with one another? Does Meghan’s ability to remember more of the past influence her feelings towards New York life?
  3. Do you feel Meghan acted selfishly by retreating to Jamaica? Why did she feel the need to cut off communication from everyone, even her sister Bridget?
  4. Was the Meghan we met in the first part of the story the real Meghan or was it just a persona she adopted? Do you feel she found the “true” her in Jamaica? If so, why?
  5. How did the story change after Leo’s shooting? Did it bring Meghan and Bridget closer? Were you surprised at how the story ended and do you feel like both sisters found true happiness with themselves and each other?
  6. What does the saying “rise and shine” signify for Meghan at the beginning of the story? at the end?

I had never heard of this author or title before I began reading it. I found the book while searching Amazon’s Best Seller’s List under Women’s Fiction. I haven’t read much Women’s Fiction and was excited to read a book that was about sisters and their evolving relationship in the face of adversity. When I read the back of the book it stated that the novel was full of “humor, heartbreak, and drama” and I was immediately drawn to those appeal terms. From the quick excerpt on the back of the book, I got a sense that the two main characters, Bridget and Meghan, were complex and I needed to know how their stories played out.