Thursday, 19 January 2017

Review: A Bend In the Willow by Susan Clayton-Goldner

Willowood, Kentucky 1965 - Robin Lee Carter sets a fire that kills her rapist, then disappears. She reinvents herself and is living a respectable life as Catherine Henry, married to a medical school dean in Tucson, Arizona. In 1985, when their 5-year-old son, Michael, is diagnosed with a chemotherapy-resistant leukemia, Catherine must return to Willowood, face her family and the 19-year-old son, a product of her rape, she gave up for adoption. She knows her return will lead to a murder charge, but Michael needs a bone marrow transplant. Will she find forgiveness, and is she willing to lose everything, including her life, to save her dying son?

Kindle Edition, 275 pages
Expected publication: January 18th 2017 by Tirgearr Publishing 
Genre: Adult Fiction/Womens Fiction

Kristine's Thoughts:

** I received an advanced readers copy of this book directly from the author in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!**

I jumped at the opportunity to read this book after reading the synopsis. It sounded intriguing and intense. When Catherine's son was diagnosed with leukemia she was forced to face her past as Robin Lee Carter in the hopes of finding a  bone marrow match for him. In doing so she hoped to save her son at the possible cost of her own future.

The book started off with a young Robin Lee and then quickly switched over to Catherine in 1985. As the story of Michael's illness unfolded the reader got tiny snippets of her past as Robin Lee Carter. Slowly the reader learned about her painful and disturbing past.

This book was easy to read and I was able to finish it quickly. I was interested in Catherine's past as Robin Lee and that was what kept the pages turning for me. There wasn't as much of the back story as I would have liked. The back story always intrigues me more and I found I was craving more.

This book was a story of love and forgiveness and the lengths people will go to in order to protect the ones they love. It was also a story of how secrets can come back to haunt you when you least expect it. The content wasn't always easy or pleasant to read but it painted a fairly good picture for the reader.

I do have to mention a couple of things that I struggled with as I was reading this book, Catherine being the biggest one for me. I had a hard time liking her. First, I found it hard to take when she wouldn't tell her husband her secret on more than one occasion. She would go as far as saying that it was really bad and that she could be in trouble but would stop at that. The bigger thing for me though was that I couldn't identify with her and the entire reconnection with the son that she put up for adoption. I found her cold and somewhat heartless about the entire thing. She was only connecting with him because she was hoping he was a bone marrow match for Michael. She seemed emotionless and selfish and not at all concerned about what it would do to him. It was very much unresolved in my opinion. I feel like her character needed to be fleshed out and developed a little more in order for me to understand and empathise with her. In fact, all of the characters would have benefited with a little more developing. They sometimes felt a little robotic.

I did however enjoy the reconnection that Catherin/Robin Lee had with her brother. I could feel a little bit more of the pain and emotion throughout that aspect of the story. Again, I felt that she lacked a bit of emotion and it was coming mostly from the other characters but a tiny bit did show through.

All in all, I enjoyed this book and am thankful that I had the opportunity to read it!

About the Author
Susan Clayton-Goldner was born in New Castle, Delaware and grew up with four brothers along the banks of the Delaware River. She is a graduate of the University of Arizona's Creative Writing Program and has been writing most of her life. Her novels have been finalists for The Hemingway Award, the Heeken Foundation Fellowship, the Writers Foundation and the Publishing On-line Contest. Susan won the National Writers' Association Novel Award twice for unpublished novels and her poetry was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Her work has appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies including Animals as Teachers and Healers, published by Ballantine Books, Our Mothers/Ourselves, by the Greenwood Publishing Group, The Hawaii Pacific Review-Best of a Decade, and New Millennium Writings. A collection of her poems, A Question of Mortality was released in 2014 by Wellstone Press. Prior to writing full time, Susan worked as the Director of Corporate Relations for University Medical Center in Tucson, Arizona.

Susan shares a life in Grants Pass, Oregon with her husband, Andreas, her fictional characters, and more books than one person could count.  
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