Author:  Kaya McLaren
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
ISBN:  1250013879

Kaya McLaren's How I Came to Sparkle Again is a heartwarming novel full of love, laughter, tears, friendships, and new beginnings.  In the throes of heartache and grief, three people that are in desperate need of healing are brought together in Sparkle, Colorado.  After all that they held dear is torn away, Jill, Lisa, and Cassie find themselves emerging stronger with their hope in humanity restored after a fateful winter in Sparkle.  Amidst all of the turmoil, McLaren does a fantastic job in mixing in hilarious dialogue and fun, memorable characters.  Before I felt things getting too heavy, I found myself laughing at the funny conversations the characters had with each other.  Kaya McLaren has quickly found a spot among my favorite authors.  By weaving together the stories of Jill, Lisa, and Cassie, McLaren should win literary gold!

Lisa is a permanent resident in Sparkle.  She knows everyone and has sadly slept with most of the single men in town.  After a particularly awkward hookup, Lisa struggles with her feelings of inadequacy and regret.  Feeling unfulfilled and dirty, Lisa decides that she no longer will participate in casual sex.  She wants to be respected, introduced to parents, and looked upon with pride.  Lisa finds herself pledging that she will turn over a new leaf.  As a sign that she is doing the right thing, Lisa wakes up the next morning with her long lost best friend, Jill, on her doorstep.

Jill is a thirty-something year old nurse who hasn't been back to her home in Sparkle for over a decade.  Focused on her life with her husband, Jill's world is turned upside down when she suffers a late term miscarriage and as a result is no longer able to have children.  To top things off, Jill then walks in on her husband cheating.  Not knowing what to do, Jill finds herself running back to Sparkle to seek solace from her uncle and best friend, Lisa.  McLaren writes about Jill, "Two months ago, she had a normal life, and now she had an unfaithful husband and a rental room in a trailer with men who peed all over everything and dogs that dragged their butts all over everything else, and she had a job working on ski patrol in the ski patrol first-aid room and another job taking care of Kate's daughter- Kate, whom she'd never really like that much but couldn't quite believe was gone." (pg 76) 

Ten year old Cassie lost her mother to Cancer four months before How I Came to Sparkle Again began.  Cassie's story really pulled at my heartstrings and made me embrace my own daughter through the story.  Cassie is an intelligent little girl who has no hope and has lost herself in grief.  Caught in a real life nightmare, the only time Cassie feels at peace is when she is sleeping...until her nightmares wake her up, which occurs nightly.  Cassie yearns for sleep because she feels that by sleeping she can escape.  McLaren described Cassie by saying she, "Surrendered again to the feeling that life would be more manageable if she was not awake." (pg 52)  Jill's path crosses with Cassie's as she begins to babysit her.  In each other they are able to find solace and strength and realize that life does go on.

I very much enjoyed Kaya McLaren's How I Came to Sparkle Again.  It is a witty, warm, and touching read that had me tearing up one minute and laughing out loud the next.  Once I started it I was NOT able to put it down!  McLaren's novel is a wonderful read for this winter.  McLaren does a great job in reeling in her readers from the start and not letting go.  If you are looking for a holiday gift to give to your best friend, sister, or mother, How I Came to Sparkle Again is the book you must give.  Not only will if fill your loved one's night with laughter, and it will also leave her loving the characters in Sparkle.  I without a doubt give How I Came to Sparkle Again five stars and I recommend it to ALL chick lit lovers!!!  Job well done McLaren!!!!     

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