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Blueprints: A Novel by Barbara Delinsky
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Blueprints: A Novel

by Barbara Delinsky

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Caroline MacAfee is a divorced carpenter; one who has kept her last name because she is still part of the well-known MacAfee family, which owns MacAfee Homes, a popular business in their town. Caroline is also host of the popular TV show "Gut It" (think something on DIY or HGTV) - that is until she's told she's too old to host the show the day after her 56th birthday. The network wants a new host: Caroline's 29-year-old daughter, Jamie MacAfee, an architect with the family company. Pushing for the change is Caroline's ex-husband, Roy, and her ex-father-in-law, Theo. The news rattles Caroline and upsets the foundation of her happy mother/daughter relationship with Jamie.

But everyone's life is further upended when Roy and his new wife die suddenly on a stormy night, leaving MacAfee Homes without its charismatic marketing lead and Jamie to deal with sudden guardianship of her toddler half-brother, Tad. Quickly, she must navigate life as a new mom; deal with the impact of motherhood on her relationship with her fiance; juggle the impact on her work, especially with her father no longer with the company; and try to heal her fractured relationship with Caroline.

If it sounds like there is a lot going on in this novel, there is. Yet, it seemed like it got off to a slow start. I almost put the book aside for some others on my "to-read" list until I got to the accident and things picked up. After that, even if parts of the plot and the characters' actions irked me, the book itself breezed by, and I found myself wanting to finish it quickly.

One of my biggest pet peeves with this novel was all of the talk of sex. I am no prude and have no issues with sex being in a novel, when appropriate. In this book, it seemed like it was inserted just because. Delinsky made several veiled references to "50 Shades of Grey" (the characters were reading it, for instance) and it almost seemed as if, because of that, it felt necessary to insert dialogue about sex, sex scenes, and more. Caroline and Jamie's discussions of sex, Caroline's discussions of sex with her friend, Annie - they were all painful and came across as extremely stilted. In fact, several times, it seemed like the characters were having various conversations to make sure we really, really knew how they felt about certain things, when, truly, if Delinksy would have just let the plot unfold naturally, it would have all come out on its own. It was a little unnatural and forced.

Speaking of said plot, it is a Delinsky novel, so be prepared that it will all seem a little fantastical at times. I would have liked to have been reading this novel on the beach - it's the perfect beach read where you can just suspend real life for a little while and get caught up in a slightly unrealistic plot.

That being said, Caroline and Jamie are fairly likable characters. They grow on you. I found myself empathizing with Jamie and her struggles with working motherhood, for instance. If you go in expecting a fun, silly book, you won't be disappointed.

(Note: I received an ARC of this book via the Goodreads First Reads program in return for an unbiased review.) ( )
  justacatandabook | Mar 9, 2016 |
Life is unfair. Caroline MacAfee’s marriage to Roy failed. The reason? He likes them young. So even though Caroline is only in her fifties, Roy sees her as old. She has been the host of a home remodeling TV show, Gut It!. The show is based on real-life situations of MacAfee Homes. She loves her job. Every day she gets to work alongside her daughter, Jamie, as she walks the audience through the latest remodeling process. Her background had been in carpentry and her daughter is an architect. Then, just when things are going so well, the second shoe is about to drop as Roy decides to make Jamie the host of the show for the upcoming season. Jamie doesn’t want the job and argues with her dad, but to no avail. He simply must reach a younger audience. Finally, rather than have Claire, the show’s producer, with all her bluntness, inform her mom of their decision, Jamie decides to tell her instead. It doesn’t go well. Caroline blames Jamie. Then, Roy and his new young wife die in a car accident. Suddenly, everyone’s lives shift. What was once in harmony and balance is now a chaotic jumble.

I loved the flow of this novel and the emotional aspect of the story. It paints a sincere picture of the characters and of human nature. It tends to remind us that nothing stays the same. Occasionally, I watch HGTV; as I was reading, I could envision the ‘behind the scenes’ narrative that must take place with most shows on that channel. Not sure I fell in love with the ‘love interest’ portion of the story. The title, Blueprints, becomes very fitting for the show, Gut It!. Blueprints are the design from which houses are created and later built, but the analogy here is to the blueprints of our lives. What built us into the people we become? From whom do we get our strength? What decides our values? Rating: 4 out of 5. ( )
  FictionZeal | Feb 26, 2016 |
I was ready to try another Barbara Delinsky and true to form, Blueprints was very chick-lit---women accomplishing more than anyone can imagine amid seemingly impossible circumstances-----but of course they come out shining, as expected. ( )
  nyiper | Nov 5, 2015 |
I liked this book. Another great story by this author. ( )
  marciablnc | Sep 9, 2015 |
Knowing Barbara Delinsky to be an excellent author, I could hardly wait to read her new novel. Blueprints is the story of the MacAfee family and the challenges they face before and after a car accident takes the lives of key members of the family. The story of the family business and the trials and tribulations faced by the key players keeps the reader devouring this book. I highly recommend Blueprints. ( )
  CandyH | Jun 23, 2015 |
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"Some women are born with an instinct for knowing how things work -and what to do when they break. Caroline MacAfee is a skilled carpenter, her daughter Jamie, a talented architect. Together they are the faces of Gut It!, a home renovation series on local public television. Caroline takes pride in her work, and in the way she connects with the show's audience. But when she is told the network wants her daughter to replace her as host-the day after Caroline's fifty-sixth birthday-she is devastated. The fallout couldn't come at a worse time. For Jamie, life changes overnight when, soon after learning of the host shift, her father and his new wife die in a car accident that orphans their two-year-old son. Accustomed to organization and planning, she is now grappling with a toddler who misses his parents, a fiance who doesn't want the child, a staggering new attraction, and a work challenge that, if botched, could undermine the future of both MacAfee Homes and Gut It! For Caroline, hosting Gut It! is part of her identity. Facing its loss, she feels betrayed by her daughter and old in the eyes of the world. Her ex-husband's death thrusts her into the role of caregiver to his aging father. And then there's Dean, a long-time friend, whose efforts to seduce her awaken desires that have been dormant for so long that she feels foreign to herself. Who am I? Both women ask, as the blueprints they've built their lives around suddenly need revising. While loyalties shift, decisions hover, and new relationships tempt, their challenge comes not only in remaking themselves, but in rebuilding their relationship with each other"--… (more)

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