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"Depth of Lies" by E. C. Diskin
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Ms. Phelps has created a heart breaking story that could have happened in our own families or our community, and put feelings of hope, regret, anger, love, and sacrifice on paper for readers to live through and learn. We learn anew that a person, whether parent, friend, or sibling, can't make plans for another person's life. Joel's father tried. His brother tried. And Juan tried. Each lead to hurt, separation, and bitterness. Joel was strong enough to overcome. The cost was high. But some things are worth taking desperate chances for.
I recommend this book to readers who appreciate a rebel with enough gumption to find his or her own path in life and dares to be different.
His quest leads him to Santa Fe, the address from which his uncle mailed occasional post cards. He finds an old Indian woman named Lila, who loved his uncle briefly before the uncle disappeared from her also. Joel receives instant hatred from the influential and treacherous Juan Hernandez—but no information about the uncle. And the tension heightens when Joel is attracted to Hernandez' granddaughter, Sierra. Nevertheless, Joel continues his quest.
Vickie Phelps develops these materials deftly, weaving the conflicts and harmonies of the different players into an interesting blend of narrative and character study. She keeps the reader wondering: Will the younger Joel manage to lay the ghosts of his troubled past? Will he find his uncle? Will he be able to resolve his double conflicts with the vindictive Hernandez? Yet she skillfully brings these disparate materials to a satisfying conclusion. The result is a novel that will be particularly pleasing to readers who enjoy character studies in depth.
Phelps writes from a male POV this time--telling the story of several men through the eyes of Joel Webster. We learn about Joel's father--his strengths, weaknesses and insecurities. We learn about the uncle he's named after but never knew, and the connection he felt to him. This is the story of love, betrayal and forgiveness with a lot of sadness and suspense thrown in. I was certain I could predict things that might happen in this book, but was pleasantly surprised when I predicted wrong. I can't say this is a fast-paced story, but one that meanders along like a stream that you want to follow to see where it goes. This is Phelps' second novel. I'm eagerly awaiting her third.
The death of his father drives Joel Webster to find his uncle Joel who walked away from the family farm forty years ago. Told that he looks like and has the personality of his name sake, the journey is as much about self-discovery as it is reconciling with his last blood relative. The people he meets along the way change his life forever.
I am part of the second critique group that looked at the book before publication. But, we didn’t get to read it all. When I got the book, I found the last bit we had read and started there. Finished it that night (went to bed much latter than I should have).
Does Joel find what he’s looking for? Is his uncle still alive? Those and other questions will keep you turning the page.