by Lorrie Thomsen
Published by Kensington
Genre: women's fiction
Thanks to NetGalley for the preview
4 / 5
Laura Klein is two-for-three when it comes to saving her husband's life. That one time she missed, things didn't turn out so well.
Now it's a year later, and Laura is adjusting to widowhood and being a single mother to her teenage children. She struggles with missing Jack; sometimes she aches for him, and sometimes she feels pure rage. He was bipolar and didn't take his meds regularly. He made Laura do everything, including keep him alive. He was selfish, and Laura can't quite bring herself to admit that.
Her fifteen-year-old daughter Darcy is also struggling. Darcy was a Daddy's Girl, and while she doesn't quite blame Laura for Jack's death, she also doesn't forgive her, either. She wants him back, despite him clearly being selfish with her as well. She is a girl in a tremendous amount of pain and grief.
Troy, the thirteen-year-old son whom Jack left behind, chooses to mourn by not remembering anything good about his father. As we discover, Troy didn't have many happy memories. Jack was not a particularly good father to his son; he seemed to parse out what decent parenting he did to Darcy alone.
Into the Kleins' lives come two men who will change everything.
The first is Nick, Darcy's ne'er-do-well boyfriend. Nick has his own issues, including an abusive father. That he loves Darcy is not under question. He does. He even takes care of her in his own way. But as each character - Darcy's friends and her mother - warn her about him, Darcy digs her heels in every deeper. They don't know the Troy whom Darcy knows.
Then there is Aidan, an emergency room doctor in his late twenties, who rents out Jack's old writing studio. Aidan is described as movie star hot, and we know it's only a matter of time until he and Laura discover each other.
Nick and Aidan shake up the Kleins. Nick both protects and threatens Darcy, as Aidan does Laura. The danger Nick poses, however, is far greater than Aidan. He could break Darcy's heart - or worse. Aidan, on the other hand, could be proof that Jack was not a good man, that he was cruel and selfish and weak. Nick's threat is primarily physical; Aidan's emotional.
Lorrie Thomson tells her story from Laura's and Darcy's points of view. We feel Laura's frustration at not being able to help Darcy, just as we feel Darcy's toward her mother. We remember what it was like to be fifteen and in love for the first time, and we experience Laura's sadness, confusion, and hopefulness.
Thomson's writing is not always clear or fluid, but she tells a strong tale. She makes us care about Laura, Darcy, and Troy, and she does a fantastic job representing the conflicting feelings that families of those who commit suicide.
A solid debut from Lorrie Thomsen.