I kept walking past this in Target and finally I bought it for my nook. And then I didn’t have time to read it because TOO MANY BOOKS and FULL TIME JOB and TOO MANY OTHER COMMITMENTS don’t sit well together. I finished it last week, and I’ve got to say, I really enjoyed it. It actually has a lot of flaws, but regardless I was left intrigued.
Plot summary: Allison has just been released from prison after serving five years for a horrific murder. Her younger sister Brynn has been left to deal with the aftermath of Allison’s crime. Claire loves her son Joshua, who was adopted before he was one month, fiercely, and Charm struggles with feelings that she can’t contain regarding Joshua. This book is the intersection of the stories of these four women and how Joshua fits into it all.
I found the various women to be compelling to one degree or another throughout the novel. I especially liked Allison, even at the end of the story. Each of them evoked strong emotion in me. It wasn’t always a warm, fuzzy emotion, but the warm fuzzies aren’t required to make a book good. I also really liked the alternating perspectives. For me, that kind of narrative works very well because it keeps me on my toes. I also thought this novel was a very interesting exploration of unwanted teen pregnancies (which is funny to me, seeing as I just finished Amy Efaw’s After, which also deals with teen pregnancy). It some ways it’s not realistic, or really could be divided into multiple novels, or one longer one.
Some of my criticisms: I thought this book was overly simplistic. I would really classify it as young adult literature, which isn’t a bad thing — I just think its target audience is younger than Gudenkauf may have intended. I also think there are some pretty questionable plot points that are used to move the story along. For instance, Claire lets Allison be alone with Joshua, despite the fact that Claire knows that Allison is an felon. And again, at the end, when she leaves Joshua with Brynn. I also was left wondering what was “wrong” with Joshua throughout the entire novel. After all, he is made to be a very difficult little boy, and it’s left so open-ended. Not knowing doesn’t really work. It would have been better for him to be “normal” or for his story to be explored more fully.
The biggest problem I see is that I saw the ending coming from a mile away, about halfway through the book. That’s not to say I didn’t finish it interesting or satisfying, but nonetheless I was surprised or caught off guard by it, and I love it when the pieces don’t fall clearly into place until the last minute.