Has Anna Quindlen achieved more success as a novelist or a columnist? It's a toss-up. Quindlen earned a Pulitzer Prize in 1992 for her acclaimed <i>New York Times</i> opinion column, and her opinions currently appear in <i>Newsweek</i> magazine.
Yet Quindlen also is the author of four best-selling novels, including <i>One True Thing</i>, which was made into a movie starring Meryl Streep and Renee Zellweger. Whether debating international policy on the pages of the <i>Times</i> or writing about the fictional lives of her many colorful characters, Quindlen has carved a niche with her uniquely lucid, soulful prose. In <b>Rise and Shine</b>, sisters Meghan and Bridget Fitzmaurice are best friends despite their very different lives. Bridget works at a Bronx shelter for women battling drugs, poverty and bad choices in men. Meghan is the Katie Couric-esque host of Rise and Shine, the nation's top-rated morning program. The nation is scandalized when, during a live interview with a repulsive dot-com billionaire who's left his wife for the surrogate carrying their babies, Meghan utters a few choice curse words sure to make the FCC cringe. Meghan the journalist suddenly becomes the story, and she retreats to Jamaica reeling from her very public fall from grace. Bridget is left to take care of Meghan's teenage son while trying to contact her sister, who has thrown her BlackBerry into the ocean. The always self-controlled and controlling Meghan has checked out, and Bridget finds herself in a new role.
<b>Rise and Shine</b> is a razor-sharp meditation on our culture's celebrity obsession. Its uncanny timeliness mirrors the way even serious journalists have become fodder for entertainment: Katie Couric is poised to begin her work as the first female solo anchor of an evening network news program, yet one of the first questions reporters asked was what she'll wear during her first broadcast. But <b>Rise and Shine</b> also is a poignant story of sisterhood, and the universal struggle to find one's true purpose. Quindlen's superb, generous storytelling has never been more rewarding. <i>Amy Scribner writes from Olympia, Washington.</i>