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Review: The Abduction

abduction

The Abduction (The Carnivia Trilogy Book 2)
by Jonathan Holt
Published by Harper
464 pages
Genre: mystery
4.5 / 5

Summary from Goodreads:

An unlikely trio must form an alliance to save a kidnapped young girl and untangle a nefarious plot that reaches back decades.

Second Lieutenant Holly Boland is an intelligence analyst trained to look for clues ordinary investigators miss. When a U.S. army officer’s daughter is kidnapped from an American base in Venice, Holly is sure that the mysterious abductors want more than a ransom.

Venetian police captain Kat Tapo has found a webcam feed embedded in the encrypted website Carnivia.com, a virtual Venice. It streams video of a terrified teenage girl, hooded and tied to a chair. A strand of text scrolls across the screen: “Sensory deprivation is not torture.” Is the girl the missing daughter of the American military officer? Who is behind the cryptic message?

Daniele Barbo, the genius webmaster and creator of Carnivia, has never let the government access his servers, and finding the missing girl is not his problem. But then secrets from Italy’s dark wartime past begin to surface-revelations that could put them all in danger. To save his own skin, Daniel must decide how far he’s willing to let them in.

In a race against time, Holly, Kat, and Daniel must find the shocking truth . . . or watch as more than one innocent life is sacrificed.

My Review:

At the end of Holt’s The Abomination, the first in the Carnivia trilogy, Kat Tarpo and Aldo Piola have faced the fallout of their affair, and Kat has decided to file charges of harassment against her boss and lover. American Holly Boland has helped them crack a case, and the three go about their lives.

The Abduction picks up a few months afterwards. Kat has been ostracized by her coworkers, blamed for accusing the beloved Piola of any impropriety. She was a willing participant, wasn’t she? How can she charge him with anything when she was fully aware, all along, that he was (a) married and (b) her superior? Kat is nothing if not hard-headed, though, and she resists questioning her decision.

When a new case falls to her, she attacks it as she does everything in her life: with no inhibition and full belief that she will be successful.

As the daughter of a high-ranking US military official stationed in Venice, teenaged (and sheltered) Mia is an easy target. She’s anxious to break free from her father’s watchful eye and experience life. That the Italians are none too pleased to have an American military presence completely escapes her, as it would most teenagers. She wants to smoke, drink, and maybe have sex. She yearns to just be free.

Similarly, Holly craves freedom, even if she doesn’t know what form it should take or even from what she wants to be free. She’s a proud American who was raised in Italy. She’s staunchly patriotic, yet she acknowledges her country’s faults in Italy. Yes, she loves being in the military, but she feels constrained. While she enjoys abiding by military precision, she wants something … different.

Also returning is Daniele Barbo, a kidnapping and torture victim who has created interactive website Carnivia. When Mia goes missing, Kat and Holly ask Daniele for help, and the three are reunited. Also, meanwhile, pursues an apparently unrelated case of a skeleton found on the base.

What is fascinating about this book is the way Jonathan Holt takes the American treatment of POWs and uses it to propel his story. He also makes a point about what is torture and what isn’t, but we’ll get to that in a little bit. His primary focus is on Mia’s kidnapping, taking us from one “experience” to another. Her kidnappers are intent on showing just how cruel Americans are, not just in how they treat their prisoners, but in how they are treating Italy. One begets the other.

The bad guys go step-by-step through the interrogation manual (so to speak) that guided how the US military handled prisoners in Guantanamo Bay. Mia is waterboarded, sleep deprived, nearly starved, and struck harshly. Her abductors videotape each, airing the tapes through Carnivia. As Mia reacts to each ill treatment, we get a deeper, more affecting understanding of how torturous non-torture can be.

As Kat, Holly, Daniele, and Aldo race to free her, the mystery deepens and widens. Who is behind Mia’s abduction? What is their purpose? What do they hope to achieve? Can she be saved?

Holt writes with taut precision, keeping you riveted and turning the pages. There is quite a bit of history here as well, which helps us better understand the Italian (and international) perspective of US military encroachment and intervention. There is also some background on the Catholic church and its role in world events and wars.

I love – and I do mean love – the way Jonathan Holt writes. I can’t wait for the third installment, and the romantic in me wants Kat reunited with Aldo. Both of his books cast an unflattering eye on the United States military (and political) machine, and I wondered if Holt wasn’t making a point about that as well. So I did what any curious reader would do: I sent him a message, asking him about casting Americans as the bad guys and if he was concerned about a perceived anti-American bias.

Mr. Holt kindly replied, and here is what he said:

When I started writing the Carnivia trilogy I really didn’t know a lot about US Cold War foreign policy, other than that in Italy there had been some kind of secret anti-communist army called Gladio that was set up by NATO. It sounded like good background for a conspiracy thriller, so I stole it. But as I did more research, I became more and more amazed by the things the US had done in Italy in order to keep the communists out of government. From letting the mafia out of the prisons where Mussolini had put them, to creating and bankrolling newspapers and political parties, to recruiting or bribing government ministers or Vatican officials, there was almost nothing they wouldn’t do.

So on one level, I was just thinking ‘Wow, this is great material’. But on another, I was genuinely surprised by the extent of the US’s interference in the democratic process of a sovereign country.

Now, you could argue that Italy was already so chaotic, and so corrupt, that it needed to be interfered with. Or you could argue that the chaos and corruption partly stemmed from the interference.

I try, as a thriller writer, not to take sides in the debate, only to milk it for drama… and of course, the parallels between ‘the war on communism’ and ‘the war on terrorism’ also make for some thought-provoking plotlines.

All of which is a longwinded way of saying that I really hope my books don’t come across as anti-US, just as interesting and topical. THE ABDUCTION actually ends with one character admitting to another, an ex-CIA agent, that he jumped to an anti-American conclusion at one point which turned out to be wrong. But where I find a good fact that reveals how the most powerful country in the world operates, I use it.

And thank goodness he does.

If you enjoy a gripping mystery and exceptional writing, you will love The Carnivia Trilogy. And you will join me in anxiously awaiting the third one. You may even join me in hoping that Aldo and Kat realize they belong together (that’s a hint to Jonathan Holt, by the way).

Light up the comments and let me know what you think of this fantastic series.

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Casebook

casebookCasebook
by Mona Simpson
Published by Knopf
336 pages
Genre: fiction 
5 / 5

 

I have been a fan of Mona Simpson since I read Anywhere but Here lo those many years ago. She understood the perspective of an unsettled teenage girl, as well as that of the girl’s mother. I’ve been hooked ever since.

Casebook only solidifies the love.

When we meet Miles Adler-Rich, he is a grade schooler who discovers while eavesdropping that his parents’ marriage is fracturing. He overhears his father say that he has an interest in another woman. Miles’ curiosity is piqued, to say the least, and thus begins his journey into domestic spying.

As Miles grows up, his fascination with his mother only increases. I don’t mean in an Oedipal kind of way, although I’m sure Freud would disagree; Miles seems to truly want to understand her more than anything. What kind of woman gets left by her husband, forced to raise a son and two daughters (twins whom Miles refers to as Boop One and Boop Two), and doesn’t give up? That’s the thing about Miles’ mother: she never stops believing that better is just around the corner. She refuses to allow the divorce to defeat her.

Mirroring this somewhat is Miles’ friend Hector’s parents, also divorced, but perhaps not as amicably as Miles’. Hector joins Miles in the spy game, which becomes increasingly vital and fascinating to the boys as Miles’ mother begins to date. Mims’ Man Friend is a nerdy guy who lives on the opposite coast of Miles and his California home. But Mims likes this guy, and Miles considers it his job of sorts to suss out Eli.

There are comic moments in Miles’ espionage, as well as within his family and friends. But there is a sort of bittersweet sheen to this story, a sense that Miles will uncover some things that could lead to heartbreak and loss of innocence. We watch Miles grow up into manhood, and Simpson expertly delivers those changes of voice that must occur as a character matures. With each nugget he finds, Miles grows a little, and Simpson reveals this with delicacy and affection. She even completes the intricate feat of allowing adult Miles to comment on child Miles’ thoughts and experiences.

Of course, Miles does uncover some somewhat unsavory details about some of his spy subjects. He finds them disturbing enough that he calls in an investigative expert, Ben Orion, who fills in the gaps left in Miles’ life by his divorced parents. Ben Orion is more than just a supporting character, though. He helps not just Miles, but Miles’ family. I found myself wishing I had a Ben Orion in my life.

Miles also sees his hero worship of his father take a dent, although not an awful one. As Miles himself observes, he’s okay with his father’s lady friends because he doesn’t feel threatened by them. One of the few “good” things Miles’ father does is maintain a strong relationship with his children, and even with his ex-wife, and that makes a powerful impact on the boy.

There is a little mystery here – what’s up with Eli? – but the heart of this story is Miles, a boy growing into a man and all of those attendant issues. Remember when you discovered that your parents weren’t the mythical, mystical masters of the universe you thought they were? It’s something you observed and experienced over time, right? Perhaps Miles’ realization is less organic, but its lessons are as real as any you’ve experienced.

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You Should Have Known

you should have knownYou Should Have Known
by Jean Hanff Korelitz
Published by Grand Central Publishing
448 pages
Genre: literature; women’s literature 
Thanks to NetGalley for the preview
4.5 / 5

 

I have a particular affinity for certain words.

Masticate. It sounds so lascivious, doesn’t it? Yet it means “to chew.”

Schadenfreude. Leave it to the Germans to have a word for “joy in other people’s misery.”

And hubris. Ah, hubris. The cause of the hoisting of one’s petard. The reason behind Trump Tower and the Dallas Cowboys.

Hubris. Excessive pride or ambition.

As I read this book, “hubris” kept popping up in my mind. So many characters seem to suffer from it, and given that Korelitz’s writing is realistic and relatable, I wonder, then: do we all suffer from hubris? Is it part of the human condition?

In the case of Grace Reinhart, perhaps pride is not so excessive. Certainly not enough to cause what happens to her.

Grace is a therapist whose patients come to her, as most do to therapists, searching for answers. Grace believes that they knew the answers all along, that if they had only paid attention, not been so quick to ignore the evidence in front of them – if they had only seen reality as opposed to what they wanted to see – then they would realize that they knew. Because, really, they should have known.

In fact, she wrote a book about it. You Should Have Known. She is in the final stages of pre-publication, working with her editor and publisher, granting early interviews. Grace’s theory is simple, but true: the clues were there all along. You just chose to overlook them or make excuses for them or wish them away.

You should have known.

Of course, when you write a book about something like that, your own house better be spotless. And Grace’s appears to be. Her son Henry is twelve, suitably precocious, and ensconced at the same New York City private school she attended. Her husband Jonathan is an acclaimed pediatric oncologist – he treats children with cancer, for goodness’ sake. She’s an only child, her mother having passed away when Grace was in college and her father remarried. She is successful, but not too successful.

Life is good for Grace Reinhart.

But then there is a grisly death.

And Jonathan goes missing.

And every certainty Grace had becomes uncertain, questioned.

She should  have known, right?

Jean Hanff Korelitz weaves her tale with the precision of a master chef, slicing, dicing, and sauteeing her characters into various confections of deliciousness for us readers.

Grace is a fantastic character: fully complex and fully realized. Her hubris is in her somewhat smug, somewhat frustrated response to her patients’ problems. If Grace can see within three minutes that your husband prefers the company of men, why haven’t you? As they weep in her office, Grace responds with professional empathy, albeit with some personal tsk-ing. When she recalls her history with Jonathan, we begin to see what Grace did (would) not. We also harbor, before she does, certain suspicions of Jonathan, as well as of another character. Because we care about her, we also hope that our suspicions are wrong. Not that she’s perfect, mind you. Grace is a bit too caught up in her world to pay attention to those details that she would condemn her patients for ignoring. She judges. She suffers jealousies and insecurities. She gets frustrated and snippy.

But she’s a good mother, devoted to Henry, and she adores Jonathan, admiring him to the point of awe.

As developed as Grace is, Jonathan is a mystery, and that is entirely by design. I was frustrated by how little I knew him, which only made me more concerned for Grace. The question here – how well do we know our spouse – is not the point, though. Korelitz believes, and hopes you understand as well, that we only know what our spouse wants us to know. We only know, Korelitz posits, what we want to know.

Occasionally the pacing is off (we spend a bit too much time with Grace’s patients), and there are a couple of threads that are a bit too neatly tied up. So is the book perfect? No, but it is deeply, richly entertaining and engrossing.

The ending is something I would dearly love to discuss with you faithful readers, so please hit up the comments and let me know your thoughts. I’d also love to know your reaction to this book.

Read it. READ IT.

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The Weight of Blood

weight of bloodThe Weight of Blood
by Laura McHugh
Published by Spiegel & Grau / Random House
320 pages
Genre: Literature; mystery 
Thanks to NetGalley for the preview
5  / 5

Well written atmospheric novels make you feel as if you are right there, sitting with the characters. Freezing in the pelting ice or sweltering in the oppressive heat.

Such is the case with Laura McHugh’s The Weight of Blood, which places you in Henbane, Missouri, smack in the Ozarks. You will swat mosquitos, wipe the sweat off your brow, and feel as suffocated as the characters.

Told from the perspectives of different characters, we primarily are in the heads of Lucy and Lila Dane, a daughter and her mother. Lucy is a teenager, living with her frequently absent father Carl. It’s the summer before her senior year of high school, and she gets a job working for Uncle Crete, Carl’s brother, at his general store. She becomes reacquainted with Daniel, a boy with whom she shared a Spin the Bottle kiss that she remembers vividly. She also faces the one-year anniversary of the death of her friend Cherie, a girl who battled mental and emotional disabilities. What happened to Cherie? Who killed her? Lucy wants to know.

She also would like to know what really happened to her mother Lila. Coming to town at age nineteen, Lila immediately intrigued all of Henbane. With her exotic looks (shared by Lucy), most in the town figured her for a witch. She went to work for Crete but fell in love with his brother. Crete, ever the possessive sort, may not have liked that little development. But unquestionably, he is a devoted uncle to his niece, just as Lila was a devoted mother. So devoted that many cannot understand how or why Lila disappeared.

Lucy’s curiosity about Cherie’s death and Lila’s vanishing act ignite the plot, which sends her off investigating the two tragedies. We learn some of Lila’s history form her point-of-view, and we get to know many of the two women’s friends and acquaintances. We quickly ascertain who is behind Lila’s disappearance, although it takes a little longer to understand what happened to Cherie.

McHugh keeps us turning the pages by drawing interesting, developed characters. Lucy is unforgettable, and we come to want to protect her from what we know will be a devastating answer to the mystery surrounding her mother. We also hope that our instincts regarding the danger Lila finds herself in are wrong, if for no other reason than we would like for Lila to be the mother she yearns to be. The two share much in common, yet Lucy clearly has her father’s blood in her. Carl’s sweet optimism, all but diminished after his wife’s disappearance, is there in Lucy. The supporting cast, while appropriately quirky for Ozark denizens, are entertaining and believable.

I enjoyed this book tremendously. It is well written and thought provoking. If the mysteries are a bit too easily solved, perhaps they were never the point anyway. Perhaps the central focus is a young girl’s search for herself, something she can’t do until she knows what happened to her mother and friend. Perhaps the greater issue is what comprises a family: does the weight of blood out-rank everything, or is what’s more important the people who are truly on your side?

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Sworn Secret

sworn secretSworn Secret 
by Amanda Jennings
Published by Witness Impulse (Harper Collins)
385 pages
Genre: literature; general fiction; 
Thanks to edelweiss for the preview
4.5 / 5

Do not begin reading this book unless you have time to finish it, because you will not want to put it down. At all.

The Thorne family has spent the previous year reeling – sadly not really healing – from the death of oldest daughter Anna, who fell from the roof of the school. Some say she committed suicide, others say it was an accident. Jon Thorne believes his daughter suffered an accident, and younger daughter Lizzie agrees. Kate is convinced something happened to her daughter and is determined to blame everyone, even though she might agree – deep down – that it was a terrible accident.

Anna was the light in the Thorne home, beloved by parents and sister. But Anna, as we come to discover, concealed many secrets about herself, none of them savory, none of them what the family thought they knew about her.

As Kate and Jon attempt to maintain their marriage in the face of their grief, Lizzie finds herself drawn to Haydn, the boy Anna was dating when she died. Her parents may be stuck in neutral, but Lizzie wants to live again.

This is an excruciatingly painful book to read because the Thornes’ grief is so crushing. On top of that, Jon must deal with an Alzheimer’s riddled father, a distant and disapproving mother, and a rogue brother.

But far more pressing is his family, specifically his wife.

Oh, you will hate Kate. In fact, I found myself saying out loud, “I hate you,” more than once while reading. She is all but loathsome. Yes, we understand her grief. Absolutely. But she wears it like a badge of honor, as if determined to out-sad everyone around her. Jon points this out to her at one point, and she dismisses it, much like she dismisses him and Lizzie.

Her youngest daughter’s need to connect with someone who understands her drives her to a romance no one approves of, and one that quickly becomes very serious. But Lizzie needs comfort. She needs someone to be strong for her, and if it’s Haydn, then she makes no apologies.

The events leading to Anna’s death will not surprise you. From about the third page of the book, I knew what one of Anna’s secrets was, and I suspected others. But this isn’t a mystery. I know the blurb calls it a “domestic thriller,” but the “mystery” here is whether or not this family will survive together. Anna’s secrets are transparent to us from the start, although what actually happened when she died is shrouded in questions.

Like I said, though, the Thorne family’s ability to work their way through their grief is the heart of this novel. Can Kate get out of her own way and see that her husband and daughter need her? Can Jon be strong enough for all of them? Can he stabilize his marriage? Can he help Lizzie?

I loved this book on so many levels, including how complicated Kate was. Jennings treats her characters with respect, and if Anna’s secret life was too hidden, then we can forgive the lapse. (You would think that Lizzie would know more than she does, but no.) Kate, Jon, and Lizzie are wonderfully drawn, and their stories feel real and unforced. In fact, my biggest complaint is the cover. What in the world? It’s horrid. Witness Impulse, please correct that.

Read this one. Seriously. Read it.

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The Swiss Affair

swiss affairThe Swiss Affair
by Emylia Hall
Published by Harlequin MIRA
384 pages
Genre: fiction; mystery; romance; women’s literature 
Thanks to NetGalley for the preview
4.5 / 5

 

Before we begin, let me say that I loved this book. I hated – HATED – the ending, but in the best way possible.

Hadley is a college sophomore and leading a fairly staid, predictable, if not slightly dull life. She lives at home, where she helps her parents take care of her young brother. It isn’t that life isn’t good; Hadley’s life is almost idyllic to a certain extent. Her parents are happily married, her brother precocious, and she’s one of those people destined to lead a happy life.

When the opportunity to study in Lausanne, Switzerland, arises, Hadley applies at the last second. She fears leaving her family in the lurch because she knows they rely on her. But her mother urges her to apply, and before Hadley has time to regret or second-guess anything, she’s heading to Lausanne, where she plans to study literature. She has a particular affinity for American literature, and an even more particular affinity for Ernest Hemingway, whose first – and perhaps most beloved – wife was named Hadley.

On her first night, she comes across a gorgeous, older American man whose casual “Take it easy” makes her heart whirl. We know – even if Hadley may not – that she will see this man again, so when it turns out that he is her professor in a Hemingway class, we aren’t terribly surprised.

But how does Joel feel about Hadley? She senses that he’s interested, yet he always seems to be a few paces out of reach. Fortunately, Kristina, a beautiful Danish girl, shows up and moves in next to Hadley in the dorm. Hadley is as taken with Kristina as she is with Joel. Kristina is exotic and worldly, and she has a confidence that Hadley envies as much as she does Kristina’s bra size. Kristina confides in Hadley that she’s having an affair with a married man, and while a little shocked, Hadley feels more curiosity than anything.

Another new friend is Hugo, an elderly Swiss man who quickly becomes an important confidante. Hadley’s life in Lausanne is coming together, and, even more significantly, Hadley herself is coming together. She is discovering who she is, and Lausanne is as important a factor in this self-realization as Hadley’s new friends.

But then …

Tragedy strikes.

Hadley has to rely on two of her friends to help her understand what happened, why it happened, and who might be at fault. She is intellectually prepared for this, but not emotionally. The neat outline she crafted for her life begins to veer off course as she opens herself up to feelings she had not previously experienced. Her calm, orderly life did not have a Kristina in it, or a Joel or a Hugo. But it does in Lausanne, and Hadley has to adjust to what this new world means for her.

The mystery at the heart of the novel sends Hadley on a mission for truth, and as she uncovers those truths, she slowly reveals to herself – and to others – the person she is becoming.

Emylia Hall’s writing pulls you into this story and does not let you go until the last period on the last page. And even then, you find yourself going back to Lausanne and Hadley, wondering what would have happened if … if 

You will adore Hadley, for all of her faults and occasional too-good-to-be-true-ness. She is a young woman eager to learn, not just about Hemingway but about her friends, Lausanne, and herself. She knows she has been presented with an opportunity, and she will not squander it. Joel is an enigma for much of the novel, although, like Hadley, you will realize perhaps too late that you understood him all along. I liked him so much.

Hugo is adorable, if not somewhat frustrating. He understands how the story will end for Hadley, and we are grateful that he is there to help her navigate her way through the events that befall her. Like Joel, Kristina is also a bit mysterious. She is everything Hadley is not, and the one complaint I have about this book is why Hadley is so entranced with Kristina. Is it that she’s just different from everyone else? She performs a favor for Hadley early on in their friendship, but surely that minor moment is not what binds Hadley to her? She seems selfish; she withholds as a means of control, and I wish Hadley could have seen that in her. Hadley’s response to Kristina seems extreme, yet it is that response that shapes Hadley more than anything else.

Now, about the ending. It is gut wrenching, and I kept hoping that I wasn’t reading what I was reading. I wanted a different ending, even though the ending I wished Emylia Hall wrote is not an ending that in any way was possible. This novel ends the way it has to end – there is no other option – but oh how I wanted something else.

I loved this book. Loved it. And you will, too.

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Blog Tour: The In-Between Hour

The In-Between HourThe In-Between Hour
by Barbara Claypole White
Published by Harlequin MIRA
384 pages
Genre: women’s lit 
Thanks to the publisher for the copy
4.5 / 5

There are some tragedies that are almost too much to bear. Death of a child, for instance, is something so horrific and heart breaking that I struggle with reading books with that as a topic. (I’ve never been able to read The Shack, and I never will.)

The In-Between Hour is about a man and a woman trying to overcome tragedies – and potential tragedies – involving their sons. And yet Barbara Claypole White manages to give us hope.

Will Shepard (I won’t do a riff on the symbolism of his last name, but suffice it to say, I COULD) was a man with a plan: dump his pastoral North Carolina hometown and all of its inherent demons, head to New York, write books and never – or at least, very rarely – look back. No marriage, no children. Just “companions” and literary success. If his professional acclaim comes with the cost of writing a best selling detective series, Will can accept that. His aspirations don’t include Nobels or Pulitzers; it just includes doing what he enjoys and staying away from North Carolina.

And never having children.

But the thing with all those plans he makes is that he forgets that he’s not the only one calling the shots. It turns out that one of his lady friends got pregnant, and the day she shows up with Will’s son is a day he never thought he’d see and certainly never thought he would enjoy.

It turns out that Will takes to his boy Freddy quickly and passionately. He engulfs the child’s smell, he rearranges his life to accommodate him, and he forges an amicable relationship with Freddy’s mother. Will doesn’t necessarily approve of her life’s choices; she is a socialite with no understanding of responsibility, and she drinks too much.

Her drinking, in fact, leads to crushing agony for Will: she drives drunkenly with Freddy in the car and kills him.

As if this isn’t bad enough, Will’s widowed father has been kicked out of his nursing home for, basically, being an octogenarian thug. Jacob struggles with dementia, recalling his wife far more lovingly than Will does. He also struggles with remembering what, exactly, happened to Freddy. To ease his father’s mental anguish, Will decides to tell him that Freddy is traveling the world with his mother.

When the nursing home calls, though, Will is forced to return home. Forced to deal with his father, and forced to figure out his next step. He winds up staying with Jacob in a guest cottage on the grounds of a home owned by holistic veterinarian Hannah, who has her own parenting struggles with her older son Galen.

It would be trite to say that Will and Hannah heal each other, and it would also be false. We don’t – we can’t – heal each other’s spiritual and emotional wounds. What we can do is help them get through it, to survive, to – in Will’s case – live with it.

This is a beautifully written book that will pull you in from the first page. If there are perhaps a few convenient coincidences (one of which almost feels cheap), they are offset by the moments that ring so real that they are almost difficult to read. Will is obsessed with finding out what happened to his son – what exactly did he experience in those final moments of the crash? When he envisions the suffering and wonders if Freddy called out for him, it is heartbreaking.

I’ll admit it: I cried several times while reading The In-Between Hour. Hannah’s story is just aspoignant as Will’s, and and her uncertainty and insecurity regarding Galen is understated yet evocative. We understand from the start how frustrated she feels and how stymied she is by Galen’s illness.

Will and Hannah are interesting people whose struggles make us care for them. In some ways, Hannah is almost too good to be true, which makes her screw ups so appreciated by us readers. They make her more approachable.

The setting is as big a character as any of the humans in this tale. Mountains, Indian reservations, forests – nature beckons Will. Everything that he has resisted for so long winds up rescuing him.

Barbara Claypole White

It’s a lovely book that touchingly, gently, respectfully discusses some terribly sad subjects.

For more information regarding Barbara Claypole White, visit her  website, Facebook page, and Twitter account.

To read other reviews, check out the tour involved for this novel (the schedule can be found here).

tlc tour host

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