Family bonds are at the heart of this contemporary story – part women’s fiction and part mystery-lite – that tackles hope, disappointment, deceit, and, ultimately, love.
The story begins in a Texas courtroom where Nick Sherill has been sentenced to a 20-year prison term for manslaughter, a crime he insists he didn’t commit. His mother, Debra, is with her five-year-old grandson, Logan, and daughter-in-law Amber. Subsequent chapters recount their pre- and post-trial lives.
Nick is a high school junior aiming for a professional baseball career when his parents divorce. His mother returns to work and his father’s involvement extends only to pressure Nick as a ball player. Amber is introduced as a young teenager, who, by her own admission, is “white trailer trash” in a small Texas town she can’t wait to leave.
It comes as no surprise that the two meet; it’s also predictable that an unplanned pregnancy results, requiring Amber to forego her dream of becoming a singer/songwriter and Nick to turn down a baseball scholarship. The clichés end here, however. When Logan is born, Nick assumes care for him while on the road with Amber and the band, and the characters grow and evolve as the novel progresses.
The dialogue is stilted at times, as in: “I’d like you to at least look at the short-term technical courses offered at Amarillo College. They have an excellent placement rate, and I’m sure there is a career you could succeed at and make a fine living…This catalogue will explain their offerings.”
Nonetheless, novel is well-paced and displays Schoen’s skill at character development. Her characters experience a range of emotions—from anger to joy, disappointment to unconditional love—and demonstrate faults, quirks and, in some cases, the ability to learn from their mistakes.
Schoen injects a surprising plot twist as struggles ensue over Logan’s custody. This, and the whodunit element of Debra’s search to prove her son’s innocence, combined with an engaging cast, makes for a compelling read.
Also available as an ebook.