Random Acts of Kindness
by Lisa Verge Higgins

Grand Central Publishing, 2014. ISBN 978-1-455-57285-4.
Reviewed by Anita Lock
Posted on 05/27/2014

Fiction: Mainstream

Recoiling from a difficult situation in her life, Jenna got into her car and drove straight through to Roseburg, Oregon. She hadn't seen Claire, her high school friend, in sixteen years, and hoped against hope that her unannounced visit would be welcomed. Claire was not only stunned to see Jenna at her doorstep, but also touched when Jenna invited her on a road trip anywhere of her choosing—Jenna's way of helping her friend recover from a double mastectomy. Claire had one wish: to ride the rapids on the Hudson River Gorge in the hometown of their alma mater in New York. But to pull that off, she would need more friends to help, so the two proceeded to the next one on the list.

Yup, she [Jenna] just drove down from Seattle and showed up at my cabin and offered to take me on a road trip for the next three weeks... Isn't it the most selfless, generous random act of kindness?... Back in high school I left something unfinished, something I always wanted to check off but never did. So Jenna and I are planning to head back to Pine Lake.

That was Claire's response to Nicole who asked why Claire and Jenna showed up out of the blue at her San Francisco home. The interesting fact was that Nicole also decided to help them gather more friends on their wild road trip to Pine Lake. But what would make three women suddenly drop what they're doing and take off for three weeks?

Award-winning and best-selling contemporary women's fiction author Lisa Verge Higgins has spun a tale about three different women with three different needs whose friendship eventually took on greater meaning while they ventured on a 4,000-mile cross-country trip. Indeed, Jenna, Claire, and Nicole (shy, daring, and athletic, respectively) were running away from gut-wrenching situations that they neither wanted to disclose nor discuss, and for a good reason. They hadn't seen each other since high school. Now in their 30s, they would have to overcome past jealousies and girlish opinions before they'd feel comfortable enough to expose the truth that was carefully hidden behind their facades.

Amid the turmoil in the lives of each woman, Higgins created scenes—un-hackneyed and often uproariously funny—to knock sense into these hardheaded women to help them realize that they had to face their pain if they wanted to get on with life. Little by little, they began to soften, sharing their woes and offering advice one to another. Often times, Claire's Buddhist logic would hit the nail right on the head, as in the case of Nicole who tried to wrap her head around the concept of Nirvana.

Nirvana is a state of past and present. Yes, the future is joyous. But to reach it, you also have to accept the most painful times in your past. But more than that, you [Nicole] have to understand that it's in those most troubled times where the seeds of happiness are sown.

Higgins confessed "that the cross-country expedition in Random Acts of Kindness mirrors a road trip" she once took with the man who eventually became her husband. Undeniably, she has incorporated a mix of breath taking, idyllic, and monotonous "endless stretch of road" scenes of the countryside, as well as popular and local landmarks into the narrative, which kept it fresh and flowing, especially during poignant moments.

The characters in Random Acts of Kindness are women not so very different from you and me. Although it's heart-warming and very engaging from beginning to end, this novel draws awareness to real-life issues that women face daily, such as insecurity and loneliness. I look forward to its upcoming sequel.

Read an excerpt from this book.

Lisa Verge Higgins is the bestselling author of sixteen novels that have been published worldwide and translated into as many languages. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and their three teenage daughters. Visit her website.

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