From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Gudenkauf's scintillating second suspense novel (after The Weight of Silence) opens with the release of 21-year-old Allison Glenn from prison, where she has served five years for an unspecified but particularly horrible crime. Allison is reluctant to enter a halfway house in her hometown of Linden Falls, Iowa, where "even a heroin-addicted prostitute arrested for armed robbery and murder would get more compassion than I ever will." Allison, her family's former golden girl, secures a job at a local bookstore, but her efforts to resume some sort of normal life are undermined by her well-to-do parents' indifference, her sister's hatred, and the stigma of her conviction. Meanwhile, one little boy holds the key to the tragedy that led to Allison's imprisonment. The author slowly and expertly reveals the truth in a tale so chillingly real, it could have come from the latest headlines. (Feb.)
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Four women�s lives come together at one point of convergence: Joshua, a five-year-old boy. For two of the women, the connection is clear: Claire, Joshua�s adoptive mother, went through hell to have a child, and Charm, who gave Joshua up after wrestling with her inability to care for him. The other two are more mysterious: Allison, once the golden girl of her small town, now a free woman after serving five years for a heinous murder, and her sister, Brynn, a fragile college student trying to move on from her sister�s mistakes. Each woman observes the progression of Joshua�s life while facing her own demons and making various decisions about motherhood and love. Gudenkauf�s peripheral parental characters suffer from 2-D development: Allison and Brynn�s parents are cold for no real reason, and Charm�s mother is stereotypically trashy. Still, the core story will draw readers of domestic fiction. Those who like the exploration of motherhood from multiple perspectives might also enjoy O�Farrell�s The Hand That First Held Mine (2009). --Courtney Jones