The Gift is a radical departure for famed romance-writer Danielle Steel. There’s some romance in it, but it’s almost a coming-of-age tale set in the 1950s.
When Maribeth Roberson’s father refuses to let her go to the sophomore prom in a sexy dress, she changes clothes and goes with a jerk she scarcely knows.
When the jerk gets drunk, a handsome senior gives her a ride home. He takes advantage of Maribeth’s naiveté.
Sixteen and pregnant, Maribeth leaves home. She gets off the bus in an Iowa town, gets a job waitressing, hoping to earn enough pay for the baby’s delivery. She wants to give the baby up for adoption, then go to college.
Maribeth becomes friends with 16-year-old Tommy Whittaker who eats most nights at the restaurant. Home is too depressing since his younger sister’s death. After 22 years of marriage, his parents seem to have lost all interest in each other and him.
Steel’s organization of her story makes the ending too predictable for the novel to rate an A, but the characters in The Gift come across as real people. There’s not a Hermes handbag to be seen anywhere.
And Steel doesn’t glue a happy ending on her story. She just gives glimmers of hope for the Whittakers and Maribeth.
That ending feels exactly right.
The Gift by Danielle Steel
Delacourt Press. ©1994. 216 p.
1994 bestseller #04; my grade: B+
©2020 Linda G. Aragoni