From Barnes & Nobel - Sarah Conrad Weisman - Library Journal:
"Two families come together in a traffic accident during a snowstorm. Nothing terribly unusual there, except that a woman has purposely thrown herself under a car to protect a stranger. It quickly becomes clear that the families-a poor, single black mother with her 11-year-old daughter and a white, Irish Catholic, former Boston mayor with a biological son and two adopted black college-aged sons whose much-loved wife died over 20 years ago-have a connection. The award-winning Patchett (Bel Canto) here presents an engrossing and enjoyable novel. While there are a few unexpected turns, the reader very quickly figures out where the plot is headed, but that does not detract from the pleasure of reading. The somewhat unusual premise is presented very matter-of-factly; this is not a story about race but about family and the depths of parents' love of their children, whether biological, adopted, given away, or otherwise acquired, and of each other."
"And why should two adopted sons, two black adopted sons, own the statue that was meant to be passed down from redheaded mother to redheaded daughter?"
"On those sunny days with the wild roses blooming red against the dunes to their right and the ocean sliding back and forth over the sand to their left, his father was the inventor of taxonomy, the namer of living things."
"Even now, when it was abundantly clear that Doyle had failed, he could not entirely abandon his drive to shape them."
"That was the way it was in any room where one person took the center stage: some of the people would listen with concentration while others couldn't tell you a single thing that was said. It didn't really matter who the speaker was, or if they were boring or passionate. You never got everyone's attention... Doyle knew this... But Teddy and Tip, at the ages of twenty and twenty-one respectively, each believed that he was the only person who had drifted off to other things."
"Besides, just because Tip was smart didn't mean that Teddy was stupid. Teddy wasn't stupid, he just wandered. Even as a little boy Tip could be pinned into place by an idea... Teddy, on the other hand, was more like a cloud."
"Somewhere along the line Teddy's love for his mother had become his love for Father Sullivan, and his love for Father Sullivan became his love for God. The three of them were bound into an inextricable knot: the living and the dead and the life everlasting."
"But then she remembered her vigilance. That was the word her mother taught her. Don't stop looking around. Don't stop watching. Every moment you've got to know where you are, what's coming up behind you, who's staring you down."
"His heart woke him up to remind him that in life there was never a limitless number of nights."