Four of a Kind by Valerie Frankel is a story of four very different women who come together under the plan that they will be on a diversity committee for their children's school.
In the beginning, it seems that the only thing any of these women have in common is the fact that their children all attend the same private school in Brooklyn. Bess is a wealthy woman who doesn't work and spends her time taking care of everyone else. Carla is an African-American doctor at a hospital clinic who keeps a tight reign on her emotions and her children. Alicia is in a marriage that has become more of a friendship than anything else. Robin is a single mother who has struggled with weight issues and seeing the positive in anything.
Upon their first meeting, they decide to play Texas Hold'em as a way to relax and get to know each other before getting down to the business of planning school events. I found it interesting that as they played cards, they opened up to each other - virtual strangers - about personal issues in their lives. It seems that when people are distracted by something else, honest conversations often happen most easily.
There were bits of each woman I could relate to and I could also relate to having friends who seem like they have nothing in common with you. I've got friends from my childhood and we have all taken such different paths as adults, but I know that if I really need to talk to someone who will "get it", I will call one of them. And, as the school year progresses for these characters you see them each facing different challenges in their lives.
When Bess discovered a potential health problem, she didn't share it with her new friends until it was over and the worry was done. The hurt by the other women was exactly how I'd feel if a friend of mine didn't tell me about something like this. The way it was written, shared not only that Bess needed to cocoon herself within her family while she dealt with it, but that she didn't realize that her circle of people who care was much larger than she realized.
I've been avoiding books that could be potentially too emotional to read without my family wondering what I'm doing with a tissue box... while this one cut right to heart of issues that are real, the author didn't take you down any roads that were going to rip your heart out. The issues each woman had to deal with were real and based on their relationships and situation handled in a way that could happen... maybe not for everyone, but still plausible.
Once the school year was ending, many decisions were made as each family had different issues to deal with... ranging from job loss to divorce to a mother/daughter relationship that needed some serious healing.
I don't always like when things get tied up neat and tidy as a summary at the end of a book, but the author has no choice in this case... otherwise the book could go on and on. I liked the way each character was the voice in different chapters and it was easy to for me to become involved in their lives.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book and the way the author wrote each woman's thoughts.
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