Frederick G. Giel’s Willowgate Park, set in a small town in Pennsylvania in the mid-20th century, follows a young man whose life is marked by tragedy at a very young age.
Readers meet 5-year-old Eddie Brooks as he waits for the social worker to retrieve him from the foster family who has decided he is no longer wanted. The story then flashes back to Eddie’s past.
Eddie’s parents died in a tragic accident when he was just four. After spending time in an orphanage, Eddie was taken in by the foster family, only to face yet another tragedy, as his best friend dies in an accident caused by Eddie.
Soon, he is ostracized by the community. Children refuse to sit with him in class, and Eddie’s behavior worsens. Meanwhile, his foster father insists the boy call him Mr. Olson and belittles his wife, who hopes to adopt the boy and encourages him to call her Mom. But Helen Olson’s love of the boy is not enough to save him from her ill-tempered, selfish husband, and Eddie’s future is again a question mark.
When the story returns to present time, Eddie at last finds a new home. Nonetheless, even the love of a good family can’t erase the pain of the childhood accident that took the life of his first best friend.
This well-thought out story offers readers unexpected turns and no easy answers, made all the more intriguing by a pair of mystery characters whose ultimate identity adds a bit of a supernatural twist to the tale. Eddie is a sympathetic, complex young man, and the small-town people in his life are largely good-hearted, loving characters that readers will find engaging. In sum, Willowgate Park is an engrossing story that will satisfy a wide variety of readers.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.