From Publishers Weekly
In this tense, well-paced novel about belief, Kiernan explores what happens when faith and love test the limits of family fealty. In southwest Florida, college student Marshall Tobias is in search of something to believe in. He thinks he's found God and the woman he's always dreamed of when he falls in love with fundamentalist believer Ada Sparks. But Ada's against medical intervention for illness, and tragedy results when she sets out to help Marshall's 12-year-old sister, Meghan, overcome her life-threatening allergies. Switching points-of-view between Marshall and his mother, Chloe, Kiernan (Catching Genius
) movingly portrays a 20-year-old marriage gone flat and torn apart by crisis, a troubled son, a daughter hovering between life and death, and the hard-to-discern boundaries between true faith and unhealthy fanaticism. She handles her difficult material respectfully. Most interesting is her portrayal of the well-meaning traps parents fall into when encouraging open-ended exploration of faith without context, or choosing to remain silent. The thoughtful themes, interesting characters and page-turning drama of this novel will likely make it a book club favorite. (Aug.)
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Kiernan’s stunning second novel explores how one family reacts to a devastating tragedy. Cal and Chloe Tobias have two children: 18-year-old Marshall, who witnessed the death of his best friend in childhood and has been exploring religion ever since, and his younger sister, Meghan, who suffers from severe food allergies. Marshall comes home from college for spring break with his girlfriend, Ada, a religious zealot who doesn’t believe in medical treatment, in tow. Ada immediately expresses doubts about Meghan’s allergies, and when she and Marshall try to “cure” Meghan by exposing her to the very thing she’s most allergic to, the results are disastrous. As Meghan lies in a coma in the hospital, Cal’s rage at his son boils over, and the district attorney decides to charge both Marshall and Ada with child abuse. Marshall and Ada choose to flee to Cal’s estranged mother, leaving Cal and Chloe to face the rift growing between them over Marshall’s actions. Unforgettable and moving, Kiernan’s novel is an achingly real portrait of a family in crisis, one readers will react to passionately. --Kristine Huntley