Published June 7, 2016
G.P. Putnam’s Sons
My rating: 4.5 stars
This is the second book I’ve read by Julie Lawson Timmer. I read “Five Days Left” last year and I really enjoyed it. So I was pretty excited for this book. When I was approved to read the ARC from NetGalley I was thrilled. Then I started to worry that I wouldn’t like it as much as I liked her first book.
I needn’t have worried as I REALLY enjoyed this book too!
Char Hawthorn was very happy with her life. Deeply in love with her husband, Bradley and after a bit of a struggle now had a great relationship with her step-daughter, Allie. However, when her husband dies unexpectedly, her whole world explodes.
Char has been Allie’s stepmother for five years and they have a very tight bond. Char is the one who has been there every day for Allie, while her biological mother, Lindy flitted in and out of her life on a whim. With nothing binding them together legally, Allie’s narcissistic mother, Lindy holds all the cards. As much as Char loves Allie and wants her to remain living with her, the fact is that Allie’s mother now has sole custody and has the right to decide where Allie will live.
***Possibly some very minor spoilers***
Lindy, who hasn’t shown much of an interest in her daughter, who is beyond self-absorbed and whose actions are motivated more by her ego than anything else. One minute she wants Allie to come live in California the next she says she can stay until the end of the school year, never really making it clear what she wants.
“I used to belong to people, Will. They used to belong to me. Now I’m just…floating. Adrift. Alone. Untethered.”
Amidst all of this turmoil both Char and Allie are still grieving. Char tries to there for Allie without overstepping the boundaries she now feels between them. Then Allie’s attitude starts to change and she starts lying about who she is with and where she’s going. No longer feeling like she has any right to tell Allie what to do, but at the same time wanting to protect her, their relationship becomes even more strained.
On top of everything that is going on, both Allie and Char are very worried about a young girl that Allie tutors and has grown quite attached to. Ten-year-old Morgan has had a very rough life. After living in many foster homes she’s now with a family that has adopted her. However, after all she’s been through adjusting has not been easy on her or her new family.
When Char comes home one day to find that Allie is missing, her only focus is on finding her and bringing her home.
But where has Allie gone?
There is a lot going on this book but at no point did I find it hard to follow. The author touches on quite a few issues that both teenagers and adults can relate to. She writes about blended families and how hard step-parenting can be, especially when the biological parent is still in the picture. Honestly I found it all interesting.
This book was very hard to put down. I HAD to know what was going to happen and how it was all going to end. It was a very emotional read. I was frustrated, sad, happy, angry, even raging at times but totally immersed in everything going on.
“It would be so easy to hate her, if she didn’t so clearly hate herself.”
Julie Lawson Timmer is so good at writing about grief and loss as well as family, love, and the good and not so good in people . I felt that the characters were very well-developed, flaws and all. I could feel the desperation of some of the characters right in my gut. Once again after reading a book like this I feel like I need to watch how quick I am to judge someone. I like to think I know how I would handle some of these situations but there’s no way of truly knowing how I would react. People aren’t perfect and can make terrible decisions. At the same time I do feel there are some things that would be almost impossible to forgive.
While there was a lot going on in this novel. I felt it all came together very well. I highly recommend this book!
So Julie Lawson Timmer, we are now two for two! I am really looking forward to reading all of your future books!
Thank you to NetGalley, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, and Julie Lawson Timmer for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review.