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BWW Reviews: STARFISH, Patty Dann's Excellent New Novel by Greenpoint Press

Patty Dann's newest novel, Starfish is an excellent book that you will not want to put down. I was hooked from the very first page. It is a thought-provoking, sensitive and entertaining view of humanity.

Starfish is published by Greenpoint Press. It is the sequel to Dann's 1986 novel, Mermaids, the coming-of-age book was made into a popular movie starring Cher and Winona Ryder. Starfish brings the characters in Mermaids to the year 1991 with wholly new life stories. Even as a sequel, it is certainly a stand-alone piece.

In Starfish, Charlotte Flax is all grown up, a mother and a teacher. She returns Grove, Massachusetts to rent the house that she lived in when she was 14 with her sister, Kate and mother, Mrs. Flax. This is also where she fell deeply in love with Joe Peretti, the caretaker of the neighboring Catholic convent. As the book develops the backgrounds of each character, it also makes their present lives and future plans completely captivating.

Charlotte is planning a birthday party for Mrs.Flax, a reunion that will bring family and old friends together after many years. There are changes in the town and changes in the Flax family but some things have remained the same. Mrs. Flax has a restless nature and we learn that she has imparted this tendency on her daughters.

Dann has characters and situations in Starfish are often unpredictable but totally relatable. Kate is now the unwed mother of a toddler and her parenting style differs substantially from that of Charlotte's whose son is an adult with children of his own. The convent that was so much a part of Charlotte's young life in Grove no longer exists. It has been replaced by a housing complex that plans to assume the property she is renting. And, there is the anticipation of Mrs. Flax's return to town, and the turmoil it could cause.

While the individuals in Starfish have certainly matured, they have many of the personality traits that made them so fascinating in Mermaids. And, there are the longings, and tensions that surface from the past. Starfish is a book about family and the real bonds that overcome trials in life. This book is a must-read; a welcome piece of modern literature that is both thoughtful and humorous.

To purchase Starfish by Patty Dann, visit

Cover Art: Courtesy of Greenpoint Press

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