From Publishers Weekly
As Shearns's accomplished and sophisticated debut opens, hugely pregnant Susannah Prue hides out deep in the desolate Texas-New Mexico border area desert, at the ramshackle Thunder Lodge motor inn. There she meets a variety of misfits, including the owners' mentally disabled teenage son and another guest's sexually confused niece, who become an essential if dysfunctional adoptive family to desperate, on-the-lam Susannah. Passive and oft-disappointed, Susannah made a fateful choice in deciding to serve as a surrogate mother to the wealthy but infertile Forsythes, Kit and Julian. The relationships among the three, we eventually learn, spiraled into tragedy, but the birth is imminent. Shearn's narration is fluid, shifting seamlessly among perspectives and time frames. The Forsythes verge on hard-edged rich-person caricature, but the rest of the cast is fully and compassionately realized, making for an affecting portrayal of the lengths people travel for love and companionship. (July)
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Susannah Prue is a timid bookstore employee mere weeks away from giving birth when she impulsively flees from Chicago to a dilapidated motel somewhere near the Texas–New Mexico desert border. Holed up in the isolated Thunder Lodge, introspective Susannah’s life becomes entwined with the motel’s elderly proprietors, Char and Marlon; their handsome, mentally disabled teenage son, Tim; and the more offbeat guests, especially Dicey, who is on her way to Arizona with her seven-year-old niece, a sexually confused child named Frankie. What Susannah hides from her newfound acquaintances is that she is a surrogate mother for an affluent couple left behind in Chicago, the conflicted Julian Forsythe and his wife, Kit, a sharp, stereotypical matriarch. As Susannah’s secret is gradually uncovered, she runs away again—her sights set on the ocean—this time in the company of young Frankie and an unstable Tim. Although the novel’s dramatic climax and moments of shifting perspectives feel hurried, Shearn’s otherwise thoughtful debut is a charismatic and provocative tale of intersecting lives and unexpected companionship. --Leah Strauss