A family road trip from hell is forced upon three siblings in “He Started It” by Samantha Downing. Twenty years ago, Beth, Eddie, and Portia were taken on a 14 day road trip by their grandfather. Now their grandfather has died. To inherit his considerable estate, the long-estranged siblings and their spouses, as dysfunctional a group as can be found, must re-create the road trip. That includes the same stops at weird museums and bizarre collections. As they travel together, hating every minute of it, many secrets and lies come to light through all sorts of twists in the plot.
Curiously, “The Imperfects” by Amy Meyerson also is about estranged siblings and a grandparent’s inheritance, but Meyerson’s tale is much more charming. Beck was closest to her grandmother Helen. She and her siblings are unhappy that Helen left the house to their mother, who abandoned them as children and later piled up credit card debt in Beck’s name. Helen left Beck only a brooch. Soon they discover that the jewel in the brooch is the famous Florentine Diamond, missing for a century and worth $10 million. They agree to split the proceeds of any sale. When word leaks out, other claimants to the diamond come forward. In trying to determine the validity of their own claim to the jewel, the siblings find themselves reconciling while also learning details of their grandmother’s life, including her escape from Nazi Germany as a teenager.
Viola Shipman tells a heartwarming story of an elderly woman bonding with a young family in “The Heirloom Garden” by Viola Shipman. Abby, daughter Lily, and husband Cory, an Iraq War veteran suffering from PTSD, move in next to Iris. Iris lost her husband to World War II and her daughter to polio, and has since been reclusive. A love of gardening brings them together, and Iris begins to bloom like her beloved flowers.
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