Monday, 20 February 2017
Author: Susan Clayton-Goldner
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Tirgearr Publishing
First Published: January 18, 2017
First Line: Willowood, Kentucky 1054 - "I was seven years old the first time I wished him dead."
Book Description from GoodReads: Willowood, Kentucky 1965 - Robin Lee Carter sets a fire that kills her rapist, then disappears. She reinvents herself and is living a respectable life as Catherine Henry, married to a medical school dean in Tucson, Arizona. In 1985, when their 5-year-old son, Michael, is diagnosed with a chemotherapy-resistant leukemia, Catherine must return to Willowood, face her family and the 19-year-old son, a product of her rape, she gave up for adoption. She knows her return will lead to a murder charge, but Michael needs a bone marrow transplant. Will she find forgiveness, and is she willing to lose everything, including her life, to save her dying son?
My Rating: 3.5 stars
My Review: When I was contacted by the author to review this book I was immediately intrigued by the premise. The idea of a woman with a hidden past who is forced to confront her turbulent history to save the life of her ill son. It not only tugged at the old heart strings but I liked the mystery aspect as well.
Even though the book deals with some serious issues (childhood illness, violence, abuse) it was, overall, an easy read that flowed fairly well. There were a few instances where it felt like some dialogue could have been cut down a bit but it's the emotional scenes of abuse and illness that I felt showcased the author's writing even though these scenes were difficult to read due to their subject matter.
Like I mentioned, the premise was strong but I think the book would have benefited from more character development and back story, specifically when Catherine was first out on her own. This would have helped me to better understand her side of things. Unfortunately, I struggled to connect with Catherine who often came off as too detached and self-centred. Her reunion with her first son was lackluster and too brief for the build-up in the plot. Catherine's only goal was to find a donor for her young son. As a mother myself I get that, I do. But to bound into this young man's life with barely a hello to him (or your estranged brother) and expect them to feel obligated to help you after decades of radio silence when she could have reached out was hard to fathom.
In contrast, the connection Catherine had with her brother Kyle was my favourite part of the book. It went from being very close, to damaged almost beyond repair to ultimately a very healing force. Their bond was written with sympathy and heart and was very believable.
Overall, this was a good read. It's a story about family bonds, loss, forgiveness and learning to move on. And, while I would have loved to have had an epilogue to gain some closure and things fell into line a little too easily, in the end I still feel that people who enjoy a family drama will want to pick up this book.
Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to Susan Clayton-Goldner for providing me with a complimentary ebook copy of her book in exchange for my honest review.