So much happens and I don't want to let any spoilers slip, so I won't do a recap. But I loved reading as Hannah and Matt's story unfolded. I loved catching up with Tadie and Will, Rita and Martin, and meeting Clay. What a standup guy! I loved watching his transformation from a man content with his solo life to his becoming a family man. (I totally got him as a 'leave me alone with my solo existence' person, since I am very much that way. He was very well drawn.)
Annie Mac gets her own paragraph. She felt very real to me. How does a woman end up in an abusive relationship? And once there, how does she have the courage to leave? Annie Mac has made more than one mistake in her life, and my how she has paid for it. Yet she worked to pull herself up out of a horrible situation, and continued to fight against all odds to improve her life and the lives of her children. She is the picture of a strong woman who doesn't let life beat her down, even when a key person in her life has. Her story is a tough one, and may trigger survivors of abuse, but she is inspiring to watch as she grows and learns to heal and live again.
And as with other Normandie Fischer books I've read, she does a fantastic job bringing the children to life. I fell in love with Katie, and the little man, Ty, melted my heart with his determination to help his mama. I'm a grouchy old woman when it comes to kids - I can take 'em or leave 'em, generally. (Excepting my own grandkids - and I married into them, I have none of my own.) That these youngsters found their way into my heart says a lot for how masterfully they were portrayed. And revisiting Jilly from Becalmed was an added bonus, as she was another young character I very much loved.
I will say that this story is brutally honest. It pulls no punches and for me, personally, I felt deeply and profoundly as the characters moved through tragedy and triumph, and everything in between. In life, I'm not much of a crier. I will confess good fiction has the ability to make me cry faster than real life - and this certainly qualifies as good fiction. I cried more than once, both happy tears and tears of sadness and outrage.
Oh, and let me not forget how much I appreciated getting in the head of the bad guy. Roy was a real piece of work, and had we not been privy to the workings of his mind, I think the story would have been more bewildering and not nearly as tense. Getting in his head was not pretty, but I think it was necessary to build tension and really understand the depth of danger Annie Mac and those who were helping her were in.
Very well done story. If you haven't yet read it, you won't be sorry.
Content Rating: PG-13 for scenes of abuse and dramatic (though not overtly graphic) violence - but language and romantic content are "clean" and flinch free.