Rise and Shine
By Anna Quindlen
Random House April 2007
From my shelves
Meghan and Bridget are sisters but their lives are very different from each other. Meghan is the face of Rise and Shine, a beloved morning news show. She spends her days with her husband and teenage son before being wined and dined by the elite of NYC. Bridget, on the other hand, is unmarried and has no children. She spends her days as a social worker helping the most hopeless residents of the city - orphans, the homeless, and victims of domestic abuse. When Meghan says something scathing on live TV, she is put on probation and runs away from her job, her family, and her life. It is up to Bridget to discover what Meghan's life was really like and bring her back home.
This book is primarily about sisters - how well we really can know the people we love and how far our bonds can reach. Megan has always been the big sister who took care of her little sister. Their parents died when the girls were young and it has been the two of them against the world. When things start to fall apart, Bridget finds that she doesn't know here sister as well as she thought. It turns out that Meghan has two sides - the formal and professional side that she shows to the world and the exhausted side that is desperate to have some time to herself. Meghan and Bridget learn that family does not always work in the ways that we expect, but it always works if everyone shows up.
Money and privilege are big themes throughout this novel. Meghan lives in a beautiful apartment, wears expensive clothes, and has a car at her disposal. Bridget spends her days trying to help women and children who are at the end of their ropes. The contrast between their lives is striking and Quindlen does a great job of capturing the glamour and celebrity and the violence and despondence. Quindlen's writing is straddling a fine line between a story and preaching about the evils of wealth and the hopelessness of poverty. Most of the time, I found this book to be sitting on the right side of that line.
Ms. Quindlen is an engaging writer and I found myself sucked into the Meghan and Bridget's lives. Rise and Shine is a great book about the ups and downs of work and fame and the endurance of family. I enjoyed this book and if, as many reviewers say, this is the least of her novels, I am excited to read her others.