Publish Date: January 18, 2011
Paperback, 352 pages
Why I read this:I read Ms. Gudenkauf's debut, The Weight of Silence and loved it. This one sounded just as good from the blurb so I accepted a review copy.
How is the novel driven: Primarily character, but there is a plot line to follow as well. It's told from the perspective of four different women who appear to have nothing in common.
My thoughts: I picked this up at around 2pm on Saturday and put it down when I was done around 7pm that night. The only time I put it down was to do some laundry, otherwise this book held my attention and I honestly could not put it down.
I knew from the blurb that it would be an interesting story, but I didn't realize how well Ms. Gudenkauf would weave the lives of these four women together and the twists and turns the book would take. It is amazing the emotions that I went through while reading this book. Sometimes disgust, sometimes pity, sometimes happy, and sometimes the tears fell. I think I went through most of the my emotions during those 5 hours. The story comes alive, sucks you in and doesn't let you go until Ms. Gudenkauf is done telling the story and even then I wanted more even though the story does come to an end.
The characters are each fascinating, the good-girl gone wrong, her little sister, a girl living with her dying step-father and just trying to get through school and taking care of him and a mother of a beautiful 5-year-old boy. At times they couldn't seem more different but what ties them together brings them together. It's one of those novels that you just gasp when something major happens. Then you stop and think about it. I'm still pondering this book three days later. It deals with heady subjects but it's handled in a beautiful way. I think Ms. Gudenkauf really brought home to me the importance of the Safe Haven laws and how there are still flaws in the system. And she did this with characters that I felt like I could have known or been.
The book will really hit home with women, but I believe it would appeal to both genders. While following the plot there is a general suspense plot that keeps you guessing right up until the end. It's subtle but it's there and while the characters and their growth and changes and effects on each other truly drive the book, the suspense adds to the wonderful characters to make this a well-rounded book.
I don't know that I can express how much this book touched me. I was in tears at the end, mainly from reading Ms. Gudenkauf's Afterword and thinking back over the book. I am sure this book will not leave my thoughts any time soon. It's just one of those books you revisit from time-to-time and ponder the events of and marvel at how well the book was put together and how it just felt so real. I think that is the key to Ms. Gudenkauf's books - she can immerse you completely in her world and you feel like you are right there with the characters, talking to them and watching their lives unfold. It's a magnificent skill and I can't wait until her next book. Her first two have been real winners for me.
My Rating: 5.0/5.0
About the Book:
Allison Glenn tried to hide what happened that night...and failed. The consequence? Five years in prison. Now she's free. But secrets have a way of keeping you caged...When Allison is sent to prison for a heinous crime, she leaves behind her reputation as Linden Falls' golden girl forever. Her parents deny the existence of their once-perfect child. Her former friends exult in her downfall. Her sister, Brynn, faces the whispered rumours every day in the hallways of their small Iowa high school. It's Brynn - shy, quiet Brynn - who carries the burden of what really happened that night. All she wants is to forget Allison and the past that haunts her. But then Allison is released, and is more determined than ever to speak with her sister. Now their legacy of secrets is focused on one little boy. And if the truth is revealed, the consequences will be unimaginable for the adoptive mother who loves him, the girl who tried to protect him and the two sisters who hold the key to all that is hidden.
About the Author:
Heather Gudenkauf graduated from the University of Iowa with a degree in elementary education and for the past sixteen years has worked with elementary children. Currently, along with writing, Heather is an Instructional Coach, an educator who provides teachers with curricular, student, and professional development support. Heather lives in Dubuque, Iowa with her husband and children. In her free time Heather enjoys spending time with her family, reading, and running.
***I received this book from the publicist, Erin McNichols at Meryl l. Moss Media Relations, Inc. for an honest review. I was not compensated in any other way except receiving the book for free. I do not receive money for my amazon links since I live in NC (something about some law), so they are up purely for my readers to have a place to check out the book.***