Brought to you by OBS reviewer Heidi
Brook and Michael Bostock were living the American dream; a loving marriage, two wonderful kids, and running two successful businesses that allowed them to set their own work schedules and have more time for their family and themselves. But when the couple spends a night away from home and a young girl gets attacked at their house, it may all come crashing down. Their son, Liam, is facing an attempted rape charge and Brook and Michael are facing charges equivalent to child neglect for what happened when they weren’t even home. There are plenty of lies and secrets floating around the small town of Barnsbury, Massachusetts and inside this seemingly perfect little family. But when push comes to shove can this family survive or will what they’re keeping from one another tear them a part little by little?
This is not my usual kind of read, but I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was a nice change of pace and it was kind of refreshing to read something a little different from what I’m used to.
Gyllenhaal was able to create an interesting story set in the middle of small town living, where scandal can easily take you from top dog to enemy number one. I found the characters and story this author created to be engaging and believable. It had a based-on-a-true-story-made-for-TV-movie kind of feel to it, even though as far as I know the story was completely fictional. With society as it is today though, I could see something like what happened in this book with the parents being sued for what happened in their home when they weren’t there actually happening.
I enjoyed the young love of troubled teen Liam and the probably unappreciated, but loyal Phoebe. At first I thought it was going to be a one-sided kind of love where Liam didn’t notice or didn’t return it, but that wasn’t the case in this book. I’m not sure how they could continue with their feelings after everything they put each other through, but it was nice regardless, at least after the air was cleared to what really happened!
It was also interesting to see how the ugliness of the charges against the family affected Brook and Michael’s marriage; especially when it came to whether they believed if their son could be capable of such brutality or not. Both of these parents definitely had their own ways they felt the situation should be dealt with, which ultimately pulled the duo apart. But it was only when they worked together that anything could be solved.
One thing I have to say that I didn’t like about this book was the repeated flashbacks. I’m not a big fan of flashbacks in general, but I understand that sometimes a few are necessary in order to give the reader the complete backstory of the characters. I think this book had an overabundance of flashbacks and reliving the same scene, but from different perspectives and I think several of them could have been cut out or merged into other scenes of the book. But that truly is my only complaint with this novel.
Overall this was a powerful story of what could happen, if one isn’t careful. It has a strong message of how families must work together to solve their problems and I think it’s one that definitely hits a cord with parents, especially mothers. This is a good book to curl up with on a nice snowy afternoon, with a steamy cup of hot chocolate, with the mini marshmallows if you like, in hand!