Marianne Stokes should be happy. She has a marriage with a man who adores her…and she returns the feeling. Together they run a music studio, and on the side, she works with teen girls who are broken. Just as she is broken. She took in Jade when she was a teenager, and together they are like mother and daughter.

But another car crash, reminiscent of one so long ago when she was a teenager, catapults her back into her broken state, and after a few months, she disappears. She does leave a note for her husband Darius, but she has never told him the secrets from her past. The crash that started her spiral downward.

Back in Newton Rushford, the village where it all took place, she revisits the grave of her lover Simon…and the memories. Nearby is Simon’s brother Gabriel, her once-upon-a-time best friend and first love, who is now a vicar. He takes her in, and on the way to revisiting the past, she goes off her meds…and the repercussions are phenomenal.

Echoes of Family opens up the box of secrets, and in the alternating narratives of Marianne, Gabriel, and Jade, we learn all the truths that are hidden in their hearts. Can Gabriel and Marianne finally confront what they have kept hidden? Will they once and for all bury the pain and move forward? Can Marianne return home and start anew, while Gabriel finds room in his heart for love again?

I connected to the broken characters and their efforts to rebuild their lives. This poignant excerpt is a reminder of how much Marianne has flailed about, trying to create something that cannot happen:

“Her own baby had died because of her, and she was stuck on repeat, trying to create a family out of nothing more than echoes. Past and present crashed into each other. There was no future. Everything stopped except for Gabriel’s heartbeat and a distant siren. Insanity—ugly and twisted even in death—was the devil that couldn’t be defeated. Madness was the victor; she quit.”

While I enjoyed the very realistic characters, and could empathize with Marianne’s torment, her constant self-absorption was frustrating, as every time she focused on herself, the pathway was littered with the pain she created in others. Yes, this is often the detritus of mental illness, but I felt for the others who were left behind, struggling. The author showed us a very real story, however, so for that, I am granting this book 5 stars.

cropped again 5***