Review by Ann McDonald
Everyone in Wheeler, New Mexico, thinks Joanna leads the perfect life: the quiet, contented housewife of a dashing deputy sheriff, raising a beautiful young daughter, Laurel. But Joanna’s reality is nothing like her facade. Behind closed doors, she lives in constant fear of her husband. She’s been trapped for so long, escape seems impossible—until a stranger offers her the help she needs to flee….
I found this book to be a remarkable telling of the journey Joanna and her daughter, Laurel, take through the world of abuse. In the author’s recounting of the horrors, she shows you a glimpse of hell. There are many books about abuse on the shelves, unfortunately, and they almost become passé, simply because we don’t know what to do with the feelings they generate. This book will leave you in little doubt about what happens and you are drawn in and you become as trapped as Joanna. You are pulled into a false sense of calm because of the way the story unfolds and you see through her eyes, the withdrawing from reality and the edge of madness.
Her husband Jim, is a deputy sheriff and you don’t want to get too close to him because he terrifies you. He repels and fascinates at the same time. An old girlfriend of Jim’s comes back into town and see the suffering of Joanna and decides to help her. She gets her money and plane tickets to Joanna’s childhood friend, who lives in Boston but she is almost afraid to hope. The plan is made and the day arrives and Joanna and her daughter get into their car and make a run for it and your heart is pounding as you just want them to get away because without the shadow of a doubt, if he catches them, he will kill them both.
On the way to the airport, she sees the flashing lights of his patrol car following them but shortly thereafter, she ends up in a car accident. When she wakes up, she is in an old farmhouse being tended by an elderly couple. She is badly shaken but when she realizes that Laurel is fine, she tries to remember what happened to them and how they ended up at the farm but she just cannot recollect. At this point, the story takes on a magic of its own, a supernatural twist that you can make up your own mind on. The town that they are situated in, Morro, is a delight, it is trapped in time as are the wonderful people she meets there.
Some of them are destined to go on to somewhere else or stay as they are. She must become strong and follow her path and for a long time, she struggles with what to do and you struggle with her. The finale literally blew me away and I know that this is the work of a gifted writer. She articulates her ideas directly, plainly so in the end, you get it. I was so impressed with her writing and I hope to read much more from her in the future. Very Highly Recommended.
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