Seven Days of Us

Berkley. Oct. 2017. 368p. ISBN 9780451488756. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780451488770. F
In Hornak's first novel, the Birch family is spending Christmas together at Weyfield Hall. Really together, as they are under a seven-day quarantine order, thanks to eldest sister Olivia's return from fighting Haag virus in Liberia. This enforced closeness will both exacerbate and repair family spats, especially once an unexpected relative crashes the quarantine. Although written in third person, the narrative switches perspectives among parents Andrew and Emma, sisters Phoebe and Olivia, and newcomer American Jesse, digging into the hidden emotional life of each. Hornak writes with a sense of irony and an eye on today's social issues, including a multitude of contemporary references to news events and technology, though the seriousness of these topics doesn't always mesh well with the book's overall lighter tone. Fans of contemporary English stories such as those by Jane Green or Jenny Colgan will enjoy this novel about the shaky recovery of family bonds.
VERDICT Despite some reliance on predictable plot twists and a shade too much melodrama in the ending, readers will find this a satisfyingly alternative holiday read. [See Prepub Alert, 7/28/17; "Editors' Fall Picks," LJ 9/1/17.]
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