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Isabel's Daughter
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About the Author

A former journalist, copywriter, computer instructor, travel agent, waitress, and baker, Judith Ryan Hendricks is the author of three previous novels, including the bestseller Bread Alone. She and her husband live in New Mexico.

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A foundling's search for her mother is the subject of this heartfelt if predictable second novel by Hendricks (Bread Alone). Revealed in flashbacks, Avery James's odyssey takes place in the Southwest, where she grew up in the county orphan's home. She is shunned by her more privileged peers through most of her school years, until popular Will Cameron breaks through her determinedly antisocial armor, and she has her first bittersweet experience of love. Avery leaves the home for the rural haven provided by an eccentric old woman called Cassie, a curandera, or healer, who teaches Avery how to concoct remedies from wild plants. As she grows older, Avery's curiosity about the mother who abandoned her becomes increasingly obsessive. Eventually, she finds her way to Santa Fe and its famed art colonies, and goes to work for a trendy caterer (she had providentially learned to cook in the orphans' home). At the house of a client, she sees a portrait of a woman to whom she bears a striking resemblance. Avery's eyes, one brown, one amber, have always been her distinguishing feature, and they're exactly like those of the woman in the portrait, painted by renowned, brilliant artist Tom Hemmings. The client and owner of the painting, millionaire gallery owner Paul DeGraf, takes a liking to Avery and becomes pivotal to her search for her roots. The climax involves a heady dose of feel-good melodrama, but Avery's no-nonsense toughness keeps the saccharine at bay. 6-city author tour. (June) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Adult/High School-Avery James, left at an orphanage as a newborn, cannot forget that her mother abandoned her. Angry at the world, she runs away at 13 and attends high school in a nearby New Mexico town with the help of Cassie, an old woman who is herbalist, healer, and friend. The teen falls in love with Will Cameron, a wealthy classmate who proposes marriage. But Cassie dies suddenly, and Avery fears discovery of her past. After graduation, she flees again, to Albuquerque. Working as a waitress, she makes friends with Rita, and they move to Santa Fe, where a small catering firm hires her. While working at the home of Paul DeGraf, an art dealer, she sees a portrait of a woman who could be her double: it is her mother. A well-known fiber artist engaged to DeGraf, she drowned mysteriously in the pool at his home. When Rita leaves, Avery, now jobless, moves into DeGraf's guest house. She meets Will again, and their future together is presaged, but Isabel's death remains a mystery. Teens will identify with Avery, who has all the emotion and sass of a girl becoming a woman, plus an indomitable will. While the story is somewhat fantastic, the characters, especially the protagonist, are well drawn and the dialogue is true to life.-Molly Connally, Chantilly Regional Library, VA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

" calls to mind Barbara Kingsolver in her affinity for wise women and the power of close female friendships."--Booklist

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