Help Yourself

When it’s time to change your life for the better, everyone could use a little help.

Merry Strand is spinning her wheels in her rural mountain hometown when Fritz Forth, her late father’s attorney, suddenly appears with a strange and wonderful proposition. Merry has a substantial inheritance coming, he says… but it’s conditional. Merry must accompany Fritz to the Atlantic coast and complete a series of life-improving tasks to earn her windfall. Like a fussy fairy godfather, Fritz promises to help Merry, though he makes it clear that he’d really rather not.

Arriving on an abandoned barrier island in the offseason, Merry meets her curmudgeonly Uncle Max, who is hoping to steal her inheritance. Jack Morningstar, a depressed Midwestern widower, numbly occupies the beach house next door. Added to the mix are a philosophical dead Englishman, a crazy mountain town radio therapist, a suicidal software engineer, a matchmaking dog, and, possibly, a ghost.

With empathy and wit, Rachel Michael Arends chronicles the ups and downs and eventual transformations of her richly drawn characters as they learn to help each other, and ultimately, to help themselves.

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