Teenaged Christine Wainwright's parents regard her and her musical ambitions as inconveniences. Christine's earnest, vain elder brother David is the star of the family: an up-and-coming novelist who has married into the richest family in State City, Iowa. The middle child, Melissa, is struggling with her teaching career and a choice between two men: steady, pragmatic Leander Washington and worshipful Connor Lowe. When Christine disappears, suspicion falls on the Wainwrights' scheming neighbor, Andy Palinkas, who loathes Christine's parents. The unfolding mystery exposes the truth behind the Wainwrights' respectable façade: a convoluted saga of unwanted children, disastrous marriages, romantic double-crosses, and domestic plots and counter-plots. Joseph Dobrian's new novel, Ambitions (Rex Imperator, 426 pps., trade paperback, $17.95, ISBN 978-0-9835572-3-4) is a stark, elegantly written family drama set in a Midwestern university town. It's a story of aspiration, adoration, and betrayal that explores some of the ugliest realities of human interactions. At the same time, it conveys a message of hope to readers who strive to realize their own ambitions.
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