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by Beth Anderson
Amber Quill Press, February 2003
262 pages
ISBN: 159279968X

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In SECOND GENERATION, two men risk everything in order to find a lost emerald mine in 1930s Colombia. Emelio Castivenette is convinced that he knows the location of this mineral deposit and he enrolls Michael Shaunnessey, to help him finance the search. Michael is unhappy with his life, he is hoping that if he finds the treasure he can provide better for his wife Daisy and daughter Leigh. Emelio has a sickly wife and a small boy to take care. He hopes that the riches he discovers will help improve his situation. Just as both men were soon ready to abandon hope they find the mine and together they will form a partnership making them wealthy for the rest of their lives.

For ten years, the mine has prospered but neither man is happy. Even with more money their life situations are pretty much the same as it was a decade ago. Unbeknownst to them, is that their young children are falling in love with each other, one night consummating their love. When Michael and thirteen-year-old Leigh return to America they learn that she is pregnant and this in turn will start a tragic chain of events and a circle of hatred that will span for forty years. Shaunnessey will ruin Castivenette without even bothering to explain his actions.

What could have been an epic historical novel, such as Venezuelan author Romulo Gallego’s Dona Barbara or Sidney Sheldon’s Master of the Game, turns out to be something written for a television soap opera. The book is heavy on the melodrama, too many characters involved, improbable situations that occur almost instantly, and a story resolution that seems pulled out of a hat. Forty years may have passed in SECOND GENERATION, but this overly ambitious work is only 262 pages long. It is not enough for the story the author wants to develop for her readers.

Leigh Shaunnessey, the main protagonist, is overdeveloped at the expense of the other characters that make them look like templates. The reader learns all about Leigh’s trial and tribulations. These ranges from putting her child up for adoption with her Chinese servants; fulfilling her father’s dying wishes; and marrying the brother of the man she loves. She will show that she is a powerful woman with strong motivations and political aspirations in the United States during the 1970s.

Meanwhile, Girardo, the other catalyst in the feud, is put on the wayside where we learn that he has become a powerful drug lord with a deep hatred for the Shaunnessey. This character should have been analyzed as much as Leigh was throughout the novel. Their inevitable reunion is unconvincing and it occurs too late in the novel, almost like an afterthought. Girardo puts into effect a dastardly plan to ruin Leigh and her family, but the details are scant and few. The book ties everything up rather quickly with a swift resolution when there are less than twenty pages left to the story. In the end the past will be forgotten and everyone will leave happily ever after. What it will actually do is leave the readers with whiplash wondering what happened by story's end.

Reviewed by Angel L. Soto, March 2003

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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