It’s been a while since I reviewed anything for Library Journal. Patti Callahan Henry’s Coming Up for Air was sent to them a little late, so my review appeared in LJ’s Xpress Reviews, online reviews, for Sept. 16, 2011. It’s reprinted here, with permission.
Henry, Patti Callahan. Coming Up for Air. St. Martin's. 2011. 272p. ISBN 9780312610395. $24.99. F
Once again, Henry (The Art of Keeping Secrets) digs into the past to uncover events that have repercussions for a generation. Ellie Calvin is 48 when her mother dies. It's only then that she begins to understand the rigid woman who told her how to live her life, right down to the man she should marry. When Ellie's old boyfriend, Hutch, now a historian, asks about her mother's work in the Civil Rights Movement in 1962, Ellie realizes she knew nothing of that year in her mother's life. Her mother's journal from that period reveals a secret love, so Ellie takes her future in her hands and heads to Alabama, looking for the romantic woman she never knew. It's a trip that forces Ellie to analyze her own life choices and reconsider her future.
Verdict: This one is for readers who enjoy women's fiction set in the South. The ending is predictable, but give it to everyone who hated the conclusion of Anne Rivers Siddons's Burnt Mountain. This novel—with a little history of the Civil Rights Movement, a little romance, and a taste of Southern life—will leave them satisfied. [Library marketing.]—Lesa Holstine, Glendale P.L., AZ