Amy Mason Doan
Not everyone gets to have two second starts in life. Jackie Pierce, nicknamed Lady Sunshine by her music icon uncle, is granted a summer break when she is 17. It is the summer of 1979. She gets to leave behind a highly structured and upper-class life when her father and his new wife take an extended honeymoon. Since her mother died at her birth, Jackie never got to know her uncle and his family. She lands in a paradise of unstructured freedom at her famous uncle’s compound in the beautiful and rough terrain overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
Twenty years later Jackie is back, having inherited the property when her aunt died. She returns to the place of her greatest happiness and greatest heartbreak, to sort and organize and pass the place on to someone new.
… a wonderful job of keeping the reader turning the page.
But, first, she must deal with the estate and its legacy as a musical nirvana and the events that took her from bliss to devastation in the span of one summer.
The book opens in 1999 and a now 37-year-old Jackie comes from her dank basement in Boston where she has retreated from the sunshine and freedom of her own summer of love and heartbreak to tie up the legacy of a place and its place in her life.
Amy Mason Doan does a wonderful job of keeping the reader turning the page. She sets up a coming-of-age story of an unhappy and unmoored young girl living a life of rules and propriety that feel alien to her and sends her to a place of leftover peace and love that tries to keep the vibe of the 60’s going as that life begins the descent into nostalgia and disappointment. Ms. Doan deftly leaves the readers easter eggs to unravel the mystery of that summer with the device of threading 1979 to 1999 through the lens of the diary of young Jackie and the narrative of the unfolding events twenty years later.
“Lady Sunshine is my tribute to the inescapable tug of the past, the generous spirit and hypnotic bass line of the 1970’s, and the endurance of art and music against all odds.” Amy Mason Doan