Book Review: Barefoot Girls by Tara McTiernan

When her hometown newspaper reviews Hannah O’Brien’s newly released novel, the nature of her book is called into question when the reviewer suggests it is a memoir depicting her neglectful alcoholic mother – Keeley O’Brien Cohen, the most beloved of the Barefoot Girls - a little too accurately for fiction, citing rumors rather than sources.

Deeply hurt and betrayed, Keeley cuts Hannah out of her life. Desperate, Hannah does everything she can to apologize and explain, but her pleas fall on deaf ears. Meanwhile, the rest of Hannah’s life starts to unravel, pushing her to risk her engagement to Daniel, the one man who had been able to scale the high walls around her heart. At the eleventh hour, the Barefoot Girls are able to convince Keeley to send Hannah the keys to the Barefooter house, the home and heart of their friendship. Barred from their clubhouse since she was twelve, Hannah grabs the chance to visit the little shack filled with memories and perched at the tip of Captain’s Island in the Great South Bay on Long Island, New York.

As Hannah battles to come to terms with her equally blessed and troubled childhood and understand her mother and her sister-close friends, she’s confronted with the power of forgiveness and the dangers of holding on to the past.

Release Date: February 11, 2012
Age Group: Adult
Publisher: Bramblevine Press
Source: Review copy from author

Oh, this was a good book!  I love reading women's fiction, especially women's contemporary fiction.  And Barefoot Girls fit the bill perfectly.  I was in the mood for a story about love and relationships, and that's what I got, in spades. 

One of my favorite things to read about is a story within a story.  Barefoot Girls had that on several levels: Hannah is an author who has written a (mostly) fiction novel, so that's one aspect, but then, there is the story of Hannah's past, as well as the Barefoot Girls' past.  The story alternated from Hannah's present day life to her childhood.  This was done through Hannah's memories.  Then, the reader gets more information on the Barefoot Girls' childhood and histories through their own memories. This sounds like it could be confusing, but it's not.  McTiernan handles the transitions well, and the story just flows.  The memories just added so much depth to the story, and I found myself hoping for more flashbacks at the beginning of each chapter.

I loved the imagery of Barefoot Girls.  I felt like I was right there in Hannah's carriage house and on Captain's Island with her.  I also loved the character development and the complexity of the relationships between Hannah and her mother, and all of the Barefoot Girls (who, if you haven't figured it out yet, are four best friends).  I was so happy when Hannah and her mother finally start having a more honest relationship.  That was when the healing began for them.

My only problem with Barefoot Girls was the conflict resolution.  There were parts of it that felt too contrived.  I won't go into details, to avoid spoilers, but there were major problems which felt summarily dismissed.  One example is one character's alcoholism.  She is basically a barely-functioning alcoholic for much of the book, and this issue is resolved with one sentence.  She doesn't go to rehab or complete any kind of treatment, she just switches from wine to Perrier.  I didn't like that.  It did not feel realistic at all to me.

Overall, I did really enjoy Barefoot Girls.  I loved reading about four best friends, and their friendship from childhood to adulthood.  I loved reading about Hannah and Daniel's relationship, and watching them grow.  I would definitely read Tara McTiernan again.



  1. Sorry you didn't like conflict res, but glad you enjoyed the rest.
    Thanks for review.

    Brandi from Blkosiner’s Book Blog

    1. It really was a well-written book. Reminded me of Elin Hildebrand's writing. I loved the imagery!

  2. I will definitely have to check it out. Thanks for the review.

    Have you ladies read 50 Shades? I just got it, haven't started it yet though.


    1. Hi Tami,

      I haven't...I'm on the fence as to whether I'm going to read it or not. Let me know what you think!


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