Friday, July 24, 2015

Grief, Recovery and the Drama in Between

The Guilty One
by Sophie Littlefield
304 pages
$11.99 Kindle version
A man stands on the Golden Gate Bridge, poised to jump…if a woman on the other end of the phone tells him to.

Maris’s safe suburban world was shattered the day her daughter was found murdered, presumably at the hands of the young woman’s boyfriend. Her marriage crumbling, her routine shattered, Maris walks away from her pampered life as a Bay Area mom the day she receives a call from Ron, father of her daughter’s killer. Wracked with guilt over his son’s actions (and his own possible contribution to them), he asks Maris a single question: should he jump?

With a man’s life in her hands, Maris must decide, perhaps for the first time, what she truly wants. Retribution? Forgiveness? Or something more? Having lost everything, she’s finally free to recreate herself without the confining labels of “wife,” “mother,” or “mourner.” But will this shocking offer free her, or destroy her?

Even though this is a work of fiction, it makes you think about what goes on behind the headlines of a violent murder. Readers are shown how the aftermath affects two married couples, parents of the convicted and the victim, couples who have known each other for years. The POVs are divided between Maris, mother of the victim, and Ron, father of the convicted. The story begins when Ron offers to kill himself to appease Maris. With one phone call, both of them realize that, although they had already felt shattered beyond words, they only recently hit rock bottom.

I noticed that while Ron and Maris had similar ways of dealing with their grief, essentially shutting down and shutting everyone else out, the outcomes of their choices are radically different. There are many times when I feel that Ron is also a victim, particularly when his wife Deb decides to push for an appeal, dragging both families back into the spotlight. Maris, meanwhile, struggles to find something solid to hold onto...something about her struggle was more interesting to me than Ron's family drama. I really wanted Maris to find some happiness, but I wasn't sure Ron would ever find peace.

There isn't anything particularly outstanding about this novel, but there is just enough suspense about the circumstances of the murder, as well as the connection Ron has with Maris, to keep the drama rolling along at a steady pace. If I had to pick one theme to describe this book, I would describe it as story about starting over...beginning from scratch at a time when a person believes major life changes are a thing of the past.

As always,

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