BOOKISH FRIDAY: “THE HEART GOES LAST”

 

Welcome to another Bookish Friday, in which we  share excerpts from books…and connect with other bloggers, who do the same.

Let’s begin the celebration by sharing Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and let’s showcase The Friday 56 with Freda’s Voice.

To join in, just grab a book and share the opening lines…along with any thoughts you wish to give us; then turn to page 56 and excerpt anything on the page.

Then give us the title of the book, so others can add it to their lists!

What a great way to spend a Friday!

Today’s feature is The Heart Goes Last, by Margaret Atwood.

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Book Beginnings: (CRAMPED)

Sleeping in the car is cramped.  Being a third-hand Honda, it’s no palace to begin with.  If it was a van they’d have more room, but fat chance of affording one of those, even back when they thought they had money.  Stan says they’re lucky to have any kind of a car at all, which is true, but their luckiness doesn’t make the car any bigger.

***

Friday 56:  She slept that night as if drunk.  The next day she went about her hospital duties as briskly as usual, hiding behind the grillwork of her smile.  Ever since then she’s been waiting:  inside Positron while Max inspects vacant dwellings in Consilience; then in the house with Stan, working at her bakery job during the days; she does the pies and the cinnamon buns.

***

Synopsis:  Stan and Charmaine are a married couple trying to stay afloat in the midst of an economic and social collapse. Job loss has forced them to live in their car, leaving them vulnerable to roving gangs. They desperately need to turn their situation around—and fast. The Positron Project in the town of Consilience seems to be the answer to their prayers. No one is unemployed and everyone gets a comfortable, clean house to live in . . . for six months out of the year. On alternating months, residents of Consilience must leave their homes and function as inmates in the Positron prison system. Once their month of service in the prison is completed, they can return to their “civilian” homes.
At first, this doesn’t seem like too much of a sacrifice to make in order to have a roof over one’s head and food to eat. But when Charmaine becomes romantically involved with the man who lives in their house during the months when she and Stan are in the prison, a series of troubling events unfolds, putting Stan’s life in danger. With each passing day, Positron looks less like a prayer answered and more like a chilling prophecy fulfilled.

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What do you think?  I am eager to dive into this one.

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BOOKISH FRIDAY: “WHAT HAPPENS IN PARADISE”

Welcome to another Bookish Friday, in which we  share excerpts from books…and connect with other bloggers, who do the same.

Let’s begin the celebration by sharing Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and let’s showcase The Friday 56 with Freda’s Voice.

To join in, just grab a book and share the opening lines…along with any thoughts you wish to give us; then turn to page 56 and excerpt anything on the page.

Then give us the title of the book, so others can add it to their lists!

What a great way to spend a Friday!

Today’s feature is What Happens in Paradise, by Elin Hilderbrand.

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Book Beginning:  (Irene)

She wakes up facedown on a beach.  Someone is calling her name.

Irene!

She lifts her head and feels her cheek and lips dusted with sand so white and fine, it might be powdered sugar.  Irene can sense impending clouds.

***

56:  Huck nods.  He yearns to tell Adam that, more than half the time, love dies, and it probably dies quicker in places like Oneida and Oneonta.  But Huck won’t be that curmudgeonly skeptic today.

***

Synopsis:  Secret lives and new loves emerge in the bright Caribbean sunlight, in the follow-up to national bestseller Winter in Paradise
A year ago, Irene Steele had the shock of her life: her loving husband, father to their grown sons and successful businessman, was killed in a helicopter crash. But that wasn’t Irene’s only shattering news: he’d also been leading a double life on the island of St. John, where another woman loved him, too.

Now Irene and her sons are back on St. John, determined to learn the truth about the mysterious life -and death – of a man they thought they knew. Along the way, they’re about to learn some surprising truths about their own lives, and their futures.

***

I enjoyed the previous book, so I’m eager to continue the journey.  What do you think?

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BOOKISH FRIDAY: “THE GRAMMARIANS”

Welcome to another Bookish Friday, in which we  share excerpts from books…and connect with other bloggers, who do the same.

Let’s begin the celebration by sharing Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and let’s showcase The Friday 56 with Freda’s Voice.

To join in, just grab a book and share the opening lines…along with any thoughts you wish to give us; then turn to page 56 and excerpt anything on the page.

Then give us the title of the book, so others can add it to their lists!

What a great way to spend a Friday!

Today’s feature is The Grammarians, by Cathleen Schine.

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Book Beginnings:  “That writer called,” Michael said when she got home.  “The young one.”

“They’re all young now, Michael.  Be more specific.”

“Why don’t they call your assistant?  I can’t be expected to remember everything.”

Her assistant?  Daphne hadn’t had an assistant since 2008.  No one had assistants anymore. What was Michael thinking?

***

Friday 56:  “You can’t smoke in the apartment when the baby comes, Daphne.”

Daphne shook her head.  “You are becoming so conventional.  Radically conventional.  Just don’t turn into a Republican.”

Laurel laughed.  “No.” (56%).

***

Synopsis:  From the author compared to Nora Ephron and Nancy Mitford, not to mention Jane Austen, comes a new novel celebrating the beauty, mischief, and occasional treachery of language.

The Grammarians are Laurel and Daphne Wolfe, identical, inseparable redheaded twins who share an obsession with words. They speak a secret “twin” tongue of their own as toddlers; as adults making their way in 1980s Manhattan, their verbal infatuation continues, but this love, which has always bound them together, begins instead to push them apart. Daphne, copy editor and grammar columnist, devotes herself to preserving the dignity and elegance of Standard English. Laurel, who gives up teaching kindergarten to write poetry, is drawn, instead, to the polymorphous, chameleon nature of the written and spoken word. Their fraying twinship finally shreds completely when the sisters go to war, absurdly but passionately, over custody of their most prized family heirloom: Merriam Webster’s New International Dictionary, Second Edition.

Cathleen Schine has written a playful and joyful celebration of the interplay of language and life. A dazzling comedy of sisterly and linguistic manners, a revelation of the delights and stresses of intimacy, The Grammarians is the work of one of our great comic novelists at her very best.

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I am looking forward to this one; it sounds like fun…word play.  What do you think?

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BOOKISH FRIDAY: “BY THE BOOK”

Welcome to another Bookish Friday, in which I  share excerpts from books…and connect with other bloggers, who do the same.

Let’s begin the celebration by sharing Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and let’s showcase The Friday 56 with Freda’s Voice.

To join in, just grab a book and share the opening lines…along with any thoughts you wish to give us; then turn to page 56 and excerpt anything on the page.

Then give us the title of the book, so others can add it to their lists.

What a great way to spend a Friday!

Today’s feature is a download from almost a year ago:  By the Book, by Julie Sonneborn:  Funny, smart, and full of heart, this modern ode to Jane Austen’s classic explores what happens when we run into the demons of our past…and when they turn out not to be so bad, after all.

 

 

Beginning:  “What time’s your class, Anne?”  my best friend and fellow English professor Larry asked.  He was standing at the door to my office in his pressed shirt and tortoiseshell glasses, his balding head shaved close and his hand clutching an interoffice mail envelope.

***

Friday 56%:  Best to wait until the book was out to share the news, I decided.  Anything could happen between now and the book’s publication, and I didn’t want to rile him up unnecessarily.  With his leg hoisted onto the stool, he looked frailer than normal, swallowed up by his huge armchair.

***

Synopsis:  An English professor struggling for tenure discovers that her ex-fiancé has just become the president of her college—and her new boss—in this whip-smart modern retelling of Jane Austen’s classic Persuasion.

Anne Corey is about to get schooled.

An English professor in California, she’s determined to score a position on the coveted tenure track at her college. All she’s got to do is get a book deal, snag a promotion, and boom! She’s in. But then Adam Martinez—her first love and ex-fiancé—shows up as the college’s new president.

Anne should be able to keep herself distracted. After all, she’s got a book to write, an aging father to take care of, and a new romance developing with the college’s insanely hot writer-in-residence. But no matter where she turns, there’s Adam, as smart and sexy as ever. As the school year advances and her long-buried feelings begin to resurface, Anne begins to wonder whether she just might get a second chance at love.

***

I am eager to read this one, a book that has been quietly resting on my Kindle for almost a year.  What do you think?

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BOOKISH FRIDAY: “BEST DAY EVER”

Welcome to another Bookish Friday, in which I  share excerpts from books…and connect with other bloggers, who do the same.

Let’s begin the celebration by sharing Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and let’s showcase The Friday 56 with Freda’s Voice.

To join in, just grab a book and share the opening lines…along with any thoughts you wish to give us; then turn to page 56 and excerpt anything on the page.

Then give us the title of the book, so others can add it to their lists!

What a great way to spend a Friday!

Today’s featured book is one I downloaded back in October 2017:  Best Day Ever, by Kaira Rouda, a creepy, spine-tingling and utterly addictive tale of domestic suspense.” —Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke, bestselling authors of The Good Widow

 

 

Beginning:  (Morning, 9:00 a.m.)

I glance at my wife as she climbs into the passenger seat, sunlight bouncing off her shiny blond hair like sparklers lit for the Fourth of July, and I am bursting with confidence.  Everything is as it should be.

***

Friday 56%:  I closed the door behind me, but it opened again immediately.  A stout short guy dressed in a rent-a-cop uniform appeared behind me.  “You’ve got to be kidding me,” I said.

***

Synopsis:  Paul Strom has the perfect life: a glittering career as an advertising executive, a beautiful wife, two healthy boys and a big house in a wealthy suburb. And he’s the perfect husband: breadwinner, protector, provider. That’s why he’s planned a romantic weekend for his wife, Mia, at their lake house, just the two of them. And he’s promised today will be the best day ever.

But as Paul and Mia drive out of the city and toward the countryside, a spike of tension begins to wedge itself between them and doubts start to arise. How much do they trust each other? And how perfect is their marriage, or any marriage, really?

Forcing us to ask ourselves just how well we know those who are closest to us, Best Day Ever crackles with dark energy, spinning ever tighter toward its shocking conclusion. In the vein of The Couple Next Door, Kaira Rouda weaves a gripping, tautly suspenseful tale of deception and betrayal dark enough to destroy a marriage…or a life.

***

I had almost forgotten that this book was resting on Pippa, my Kindle…but as I reexamined my unread TBR and came upon this one, I recalled seeing some rave reviews about it.  So it has now moved up on my list.  What do you think?  Have you read it?  Would you keep reading?

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BOOKISH FRIDAY: “THE FUTURES”

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Welcome to another Bookish Friday, in which I  share excerpts from books…and connect with other bloggers, who do the same.

Let’s begin the celebration by sharing Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and let’s showcase The Friday 56 with Freda’s Voice.

To join in, just grab a book and share the opening lines…along with any thoughts you wish to give us; then turn to page 56 and excerpt anything on the page.

Then give us the title of the book, so others can add it to their lists!

What a great way to spend a Friday!

Today I grabbed a book I found on Pippa, my Kindle…one I haven’t even had that long The Futures, by Anna Pitoniak, is a debut novel about love and betrayal, in which a young couple moves to New York City in search of success-only to learn that the lives they dream of may come with dangerous strings attached.

 

 

 

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Beginning:  (Prologue – Julia)

It was a story that made sense.  An old story, but one that felt truer for it.  Young love goes stale and slackens.  You change, and you shed what you no longer need.  It’s just part of growing up.

I thought I had understood.  It seemed so simple at the time.

***

56%:  (Julia)

I got home around midnight on Monday, figuring I had a few hours to spare.  Evan didn’t usually leave work until two or three in the morning.  But as I approached, I noticed the light shining from beneath our door and the dull garble of the television coming from inside.

***

Synopsis:  Julia and Evan fall in love as undergraduates at Yale. For Evan, a scholarship student from a rural Canadian town, Yale is a whole new world, and Julia–blond, beautiful, and rich–fits perfectly into the future he’s envisioned for himself. After graduation, and on the eve of the great financial meltdown of 2008, they move together to New York City, where Evan lands a job at a hedge fund. But Julia, whose privileged upbringing grants her an easy but wholly unsatisfying job with a nonprofit, feels increasingly shut out of Evan’s secretive world.

With the market crashing and banks failing, Evan becomes involved in a high-stakes deal at work–a deal that, despite the assurances of his Machiavellian boss, begins to seem more than slightly suspicious. Meanwhile, Julia reconnects with someone from her past who offers a glimpse of a different kind of live. As the economy craters, and as Evan and Julia spin into their separate orbits, they each find that they are capable of much more–good and bad–than they’d ever imagined.

Rich in suspense and insight, Anna Pitoniak’s gripping debut reveals the fragile yet enduring nature of our connections: to one another and to ourselves. THE FUTURES is a glittering story of a couple coming of age, and a searing portrait of what it’s like to be young and full of hope in New York City, a place that so often seems determined to break us down–but ultimately may be the very thing that saves us.

***

I’ve heard really good things about this book, and I’m also always up for a story set in New York City.  What do you think?

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BOOKISH FRIDAY: “WHITE TRASH”

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Welcome to another Bookish Friday, in which I  share excerpts from books…and connect with other bloggers, who do the same.

Let’s begin the celebration by sharing Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and let’s showcase The Friday 56 with Freda’s Voice.

To join in, just grab a book and share the opening lines…along with any thoughts you wish to give us; then turn to page 56 and excerpt anything on the page.

Then give us the title of the book, so others can add it to their lists!

What a great way to spend a Friday!

My feature today is a nonfiction tome that is getting a lot of buzz.  White Trash, by Nancy Isenberg, is a groundbreaking history of the class system in America, in which the author upends history as we know it by taking on our comforting myths about equality and uncovering the crucial legacy of the ever-present, always embarrassing—if occasionally entertaining—poor white trash.

 

 

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Beginning:  (Fables We Forget By)

We know what class is.  Or think we do:  economic stratification created by wealth and privilege.  The problem is that popular American history is most commonly told—dramatized—without much reference to the existence of social classes.  It is as though in separating from Great Britain, the United States somehow magically escaped the bonds of class and derived a higher consciousness of enriched possibility.

***

56:  The poor of colonial America were not just waste people, not simply a folk to be compared to their Old World counterparts.  By reproducing their own kind, they were, to contemporaneous observers, in the process of creating an anomalous new breed of human.  A host of travelers in Carolina in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries believed that class structure was tied to geography and rooted in the soil.

***

Synopsis:  “When you turn an election into a three-ring circus, there’s always a chance that the dancing bear will win,” says Isenberg of the political climate surrounding Sarah Palin. And we recognize how right she is today. Yet the voters who boosted Trump all the way to the White House have been a permanent part of our American fabric, argues Isenberg.

The wretched and landless poor have existed from the time of the earliest British colonial settlement to today’s hillbillies. They were alternately known as “waste people,” “offals,” “rubbish,” “lazy lubbers,” and “crackers.” By the 1850s, the downtrodden included so-called “clay eaters” and “sandhillers,” known for prematurely aged children distinguished by their yellowish skin, ragged clothing, and listless minds.

Surveying political rhetoric and policy, popular literature and scientific theories over four hundred years, Isenberg upends assumptions about America’s supposedly class-free society––where liberty and hard work were meant to ensure real social mobility. Poor whites were central to the rise of the Republican Party in the early nineteenth century, and the Civil War itself was fought over class issues nearly as much as it was fought over slavery. Reconstruction pitted poor white trash against newly freed slaves, which factored in the rise of eugenics–-a widely popular movement embraced by Theodore Roosevelt that targeted poor whites for sterilization. These poor were at the heart of New Deal reforms and LBJ’s Great Society; they haunt us in reality TV shows like Here Comes Honey Boo Boo and Duck Dynasty. Marginalized as a class, white trash have always been at or near the center of major political debates over the character of the American identity.
 
We acknowledge racial injustice as an ugly stain on our nation’s history. With Isenberg’s landmark book, we will have to face the truth about the enduring, malevolent nature of class as well.

***

After reading Hillbilly Elegy, and observing some of the recent political events, it is impossible to shrug away what is unpleasant to see.  What do you think?  Would you read more?

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BOOKISH FRIDAY: “IN A DARK, DARK WOOD”

Married to Books-BOOKISH LOGO

Welcome to another Bookish Friday, in which I  share excerpts from books…and connect with other bloggers, who do the same.

Let’s begin the celebration by sharing Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and let’s showcase The Friday 56 with Freda’s Voice.

To join in, just grab a book and share the opening lines…along with any thoughts you wish to give us; then turn to page 56 and excerpt anything on the page.

Then give us the title of the book, so others can add it to their lists!

What better way to spend a Friday!

My feature today is In a Dark, Dark Wood, by Ruth Ware, a suspenseful, compulsive, and darkly twisted psychological thriller.

 

 

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Beginning:  I am running.

I am running through moonlit woods, with branches ripping at my clothes and my feet catching in the snow-bowed bracken.

Brambles slash at my hands.  My breath tears in my throat.  It hurts.  Everything hurts.

***

56:  At last I could see the road, a pale gray snake in the deepening shadows.  As I broke out from the woods I heard the soft hoot of an owl, and I obeyed Flo’s instructions, turning right along the tarmac.

***

Synopsis: Leonora, known to some as Lee and others as Nora, is a reclusive crime writer, unwilling to leave her “nest” of an apartment unless it is absolutely necessary. When a friend she hasn’t seen or spoken to in years unexpectedly invites Nora (Lee?) to a weekend away in an eerie glass house deep in the English countryside, she reluctantly agrees to make the trip. Forty-eight hours later, she wakes up in a hospital bed injured but alive, with the knowledge that someone is dead. Wondering not “what happened?” but “what have I done?”, Nora (Lee?) tries to piece together the events of the past weekend. Working to uncover secrets, reveal motives, and find answers, Nora (Lee?) must revisit parts of herself that she would much rather leave buried where they belong: in the past.

In the tradition of Paula Hawkins’s instant New York Times bestseller The Girl On the Train and S. J. Watson’s riveting national sensation Before I Go To Sleep, this gripping literary debut from UK novelist Ruth Ware will leave you on the edge of your seat through the very last page.

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What do you think?  Want to keep reading?

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BOOKISH FRIDAY: “HILLBILLY ELEGY”

Married to Books-BOOKISH LOGO

Welcome to another Bookish Friday, in which I  share excerpts from books…and connect with other bloggers, who do the same.

Let’s begin the celebration by sharing Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and let’s showcase The Friday 56 with Freda’s Voice.

To join in, just grab a book and share the opening lines…along with any thoughts you wish to give us; then turn to page 56 and excerpt anything on the page.

Then give us the title of the book, so others can add it to their lists!

What better way to spend a Friday!

My current read is an engaging memoir that I’ve been hearing a lot about.  Hillbilly Elegy:  A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis, by J. D. Vance, is a powerful account of growing up in a poor Rust Belt town that offers a broader, probing look at the struggles of America’s white working class.

 

 

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Beginning:  (Chapter 1)

Like most small children, I learned my home address so that if I got lost, I could tell a grownup where to take me.  In kindergarten, when the teacher asked me where I lived, I could recite the address without skipping a beat, even though my mother changed addresses frequently, for reasons I never understood as a child.  Still, I always distinguished “my address” from “my home.”  My address was where I spent most of my time with my mother and sister, wherever that might be.  But my home never changed:  my great-grandmother’s house, in the holler, in Jackson, Kentucky.

***

Yes, more than a couple of sentences, but the whole paragraph seemed important.

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56:  There was, and still is, a sense that those who make it are of two varieties.  The first are lucky:  They come from wealthy families with connections, and their lives were set from the moment they were born.  The second are the meritocratic:  They were born with brains and couldn’t fail if they tried.

***

Synopsis:  Hillbilly Elegy is a passionate and personal analysis of a culture in crisis—that of white working-class Americans. The decline of this group, a demographic of our country that has been slowly disintegrating over forty years, has been reported on with growing frequency and alarm, but has never before been written about as searingly from the inside. J. D. Vance tells the true story of what a social, regional, and class decline feels like when you were born with it hung around your neck.

The Vance family story begins hopefully in postwar America. J. D.’s grandparents were “dirt poor and in love,” and moved north from Kentucky’s Appalachia region to Ohio in the hopes of escaping the dreadful poverty around them. They raised a middle-class family, and eventually their grandchild (the author) would graduate from Yale Law School, a conventional marker of their success in achieving generational upward mobility.

But as the family saga of Hillbilly Elegy plays out, we learn that this is only the short, superficial version. Vance’s grandparents, aunt, uncle, sister, and, most of all, his mother, struggled profoundly with the demands of their new middle-class life, and were never able to fully escape the legacy of abuse, alcoholism, poverty, and trauma so characteristic of their part of America. Vance piercingly shows how he himself still carries around the demons of their chaotic family history.

A deeply moving memoir with its share of humor and vividly colorful figures, Hillbilly Elegy is the story of how upward mobility really feels. And it is an urgent and troubling meditation on the loss of the American dream for a large segment of this country.

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Like many others right now (currently, there are over 2,200 reviews), I had to delve into this book and find out more.  So far, I’m amazed at how familiar some of these families and situations are, from my years of social work.  You can find these kinds of families in Central California, as well, and not just the Appalachians or the Midwest.

What do you think?  Would you keep reading?

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BOOKISH FRIDAY: “THE THINGS WE WISH WERE TRUE”

BOOKISH FRIDAY LOGO

Welcome to another Bookish Friday, in which I  share excerpts from books…and connect with other bloggers, who do the same.

Let’s begin the celebration by sharing Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and let’s showcase The Friday 56 with Freda’s Voice.

To join in, just grab a book and share the opening lines…along with any thoughts you wish to give us; then turn to page 56 and excerpt anything on the page.

Then give us the title of the book, so others can add it to their lists!

What better way to spend a Friday!

Today’s excerpts are from The Things We Wish Were True (e-book), by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen.

 

 

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Beginning:  Memorial Day Weekend, 2014  (Cailey)

Cutter and I were there when they opened the Sycamore Glen pool for the summer.  So I actually saw, with my own eyes, the spider web that was woven across the gate, keeping all the people from just walking right on in like they’d done every year.  Our new neighbors shuffled their feet and sighed real loud as they waited for the lifeguards to figure out what to do.

***

56:  She glanced over at Bryte, who was obliviously gathering her things.  She wasn’t gone yet.  That was good.  “I was rushing to speak to my friend.”  She pointed in Bryte’s direction.  “I wasn’t watching where I was going.”

***

Synopsis:  In an idyllic small-town neighborhood, a near tragedy triggers a series of dark revelations.

From the outside, Sycamore Glen, North Carolina, might look like the perfect all-American neighborhood. But behind the white picket fences lies a web of secrets that reach from house to house.

Up and down the streets, neighbors quietly bear the weight of their own pasts—until an accident at the community pool upsets the delicate equilibrium. And when tragic circumstances compel a woman to return to Sycamore Glen after years of self-imposed banishment, the tangle of the neighbors’ intertwined lives begins to unravel.

During the course of a sweltering summer, long-buried secrets are revealed, and the neighbors learn that it’s impossible to really know those closest to us. But is it impossible to love and forgive them?

***

My kind of read!  I love those long-buried secrets.  What do you think?  Would you keep reading.

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