Once a privileged and loving couple, the Armsteads have now reached
a breaking point. Ben, a partner in a prestigious law firm, has become
unpredictable at work and withdrawn at home—a change that weighs heavily
on his wife, Helen, and their preteen daughter, Sara. Then, in one
afternoon, Ben’s recklessness takes an alarming turn, and everything the
Armsteads have built together unravels, swiftly and spectacularly.
Thrust back into the working world, Helen finds a job in public
relations and relocates with Sara from their home in upstate New York to
an apartment in Manhattan. There, Helen discovers she has a rare gift,
indispensable in the world of image control: She can convince arrogant
men to admit their mistakes, spinning crises into second chances. Yet
redemption is more easily granted in her professional life than in her
As she is confronted with the biggest case of
her career, the fallout from her marriage, and Sara’s increasingly
distant behavior, Helen must face the limits of accountability and her
own capacity for forgiveness.
This story takes us into the lives of a family that seems to have everything going for them. Ben is an established lawyer, able to provide anything needed for their New York suburban home. Since Helen does not need to work, she is able to focus all of her energy on raising their young daughter. From the outside, everything appears picture perfect, but looks can be deceiving.
Even though we are given the story through various perspectives, it seemed to me to be Helen's story. When Ben loses his perspective of what is important in life, their comfortable life comes to an abrupt end. Not having the security Helen has been accustomed to, she must pull herself together and do what is needed to provide for herself and her daughter. It can be a scary world out there, especially for a woman who has not worked in years.
I think I loved this story because it was so true to form for me. How often do you hear of women having to pick up the pieces from their husbands mistakes? I know this works both ways, but men seem to be more resilient to me, as it is easier for them to start over and find another job. It's tougher for women, especially if they've been a stay-at-home mom for the past 5-10 years.
I didn't necessarily like their daughter, Sara, as a character. That's ok, because I think my dislike of her helped my appreciation of the novel as a whole. Since Sara was adopted she was still trying to find who she truly was, but then with her parents marital difficulties thrown in the mix, she became even more belligerent and confused.
Ben, Helen, and Sara, all come to terms with the crisis that changed their family relationships. They are not by any means happy with the events that took place, but have come to accept that all of them played a role in what resulted in failure. With themes of love, family, trust, forgiveness and second chances you may enjoy this book as much as I did. I think this novel would make a great book club discussion and I don't hesitate in recommending it for personal leisure.
My Rating: 4/5
Disclosure: This ebook was provided to me by the publisher through the Netgalley program in exchange for an honest review.