From Publishers Weekly
Perpetually sunny Las Vegas is the setting for three summers of tangled love affairs in this
sultry, reflective debut novel. Skyler takes the time and space to capture the natural emotional arc of relationships, adding nuance with some lovely descriptive writing ("Past this they dip into neighborhoods scarred by yellow lawns, each one leading to a house so cheap and thin it would never withstand a winter in Ohio"). The novel's conclusion is perhaps too neatly engineered, but Skyler perfectly captures the languid heat of long Las Vegas summers and the irresistible temptations of love at any age.
From Kirkus Reviews
Skyler’s debut opens with a season of sexual awakening. She sensitively explores family dynamics, particularly the line between privacy and secrecy. Even better is the pathos she brings to her portraits of Leo and Edward, supporting players who steal the show. At times overly controlled, but rich in emotional density.
"Vegas Girls" is out now! Buy a copy today.
For fans of Julia Glass and Ann Hood, a novel about how the choices we make last a lifetime.
Vegas Girls begins when three former high school friends, now in their mid-thirties, reunite in their hometown of Las Vegas—a city they vowed to escape as soon as they could—to celebrate their new lives and revisit old haunts. But what starts out as a week-long, sun-kissed reunion takes a turn as strange gifts appear, familiar faces pop up in unexpected places, and each woman reveals a private quest. Ramona is secretly searching for a son she gave up for adoption before graduation. Jane is trying to leave her husband of eleven years, even with her two kids in tow. And Ivy, who has a new baby, is haunted by the memory of her mother’s departure twenty years ago—in fact, she begins spotting her everywhere. Add to this a darkly charismatic ex-boyfriend of Ivy’s who won’t give up hope, and a strange, new male friend of Jane’s in need of help, and the week quickly begins to unravel. Set against desert heat, swimming pools, and casino lights, and told masterfully through five different points of view, Vegas Girls is about how we navigate the present while carrying the ghosts of our past; about growing up with one eye glued to the rearview mirror; and about what happens when the past you thought you left behind turns out to have been with you all along.
"Set in the dazzling, all-consuming city of Las Vegas, Heather Skyler vividly captures the hidden edges of long friendship and the strange unspoken secrets we carry around in our hearts." —Alissa Nutting, author of Tampa
"A rich, multi-layered novel that beautifully explores the complicated edges of nostalgia, and all the mysterious, unexpected, and emotionally-charged drama that comes when old friends reunite in the old neighborhood. Heather Skyler is a wonderfully insightful writer, and "Vegas Girls" is an illuminating and pleasurable read."--Dean Bakopoulos, author of Summerlong
“Intimate, generous, and frank, VEGAS GIRLS is wise to the doldrums of adulthood and humane about its failures. These characters may walk a perilous balancing act between hard knowledge and hope, but Heather Skyler aces it.” —Michelle Wildgen, author of the novels You're Not You and Bread and Butter
Reviews for "The Perfect Age"
Skillful, sensitive...traces the twin trajectories of a mother aching for change and her budding teenage daughter. -- Elle
A compelling read. -- YM Magazine
An honest story that unfolds very simply to remind us how inadequate we felt, should we choose to admit it. -- John Ziebell, Las Vegas Mercury
Skyler sensitively explores family dynamics, particularly the line between privacy and secrecy. -- Kirkus Reviews
[A] beautifully wrought coming-of-age story…Rich, smart, and nuanced. --
Eleanor J. Bader, Library Journal
From The Guardian
The summer heat of Las Vegas burns off the page in this sultry tale of sexual awakening, much of which (the clothed bits) takes place by the swimming pools of a luxury hotel where 15-year-old Helen Larkin takes a holiday job as a lifeguard. At first glance, the Larkins are a normal middle-class family. Prof Larkin is esteemed as a lecturer in film studies, Mom Kathy teaches but gets home to cook for the kids, Helen and younger sister Jenny are working hard to go off to college. But then we wouldn't have a novel if things weren't about to fall apart.
Helen is the "perfect age", beautiful with the bloom of youth, prey to men and boys. Leo, her schoolboy musician boyfriend, is obsessed with her, though she senses that the world has wider possibilities. She might, however, swim a straighter course in life if she weren't furious with her mother. For Kathy - mid-40s, empty-nest syndrome, thinks hubby is playing away - is discovering the parts Prof Larkin cannot reach with Helen's smarmy pool boss, Gerard.
Meanwhile, the professor prowls round restlessly, suspicious of his wife, protective of his daughters - and who knows what sister Jenny is getting up to on her bicycle! While the novel is absorbing, evocative and observant, it spends a little too much time splashing in the shallow end.
From The Independent
When you're hot and sweaty pressed up against some hairy bloke on the tube in August, that's no fun. When you're hot and sweaty as a result of a thoroughly claustrophobic summer read, that's quite another matter. So how about spending three summers in the searing Las Vegas sunshine, the setting for Heather Skyler's atmospheric debut novel?
Skyler grew up in Las Vegas, and her descriptive powers create a place that is at the same time thoroughly sexual, oppressively hot and occasionally downright grubby, perhaps an accurate reflection of the nature of the tale. It's the little touches that do it, such as the vinyl seats in Leo's car: "The parking lot is even hotter than his lounge chair, the car like a pit of fire, vinyl burning his legs as he sits..." As well as adding a feeling of pressure on the characters and their actions, Skyler has allowed this infernal sunshine and heat to manipulate the story - several encounters and revelations take place in Luv-it, the "frozen custard" store, purely because that's where they all go to cool down.
The Perfect Age is a good, solid debut, the strength of which stems greatly from Skyler's confident handling and obvious understanding of the Las Vegas lifestyle. The muddied morality of the characters, particularly Kathy, Helen and Leo, is treated with a sense of grace and sympathy, so even the most cynical of readers may be hard-pushed to make black-and-white judgements.
Parumph Valley Times:
Heather Skyler's first book, and it's a good one. Pick up a copy
and keep an eye out - this is an author to watch.