Here is a summary of the novel from the Harper Collins website:
A recently widowed mother of two, Sylvie Bates-McAllister finds her life upended by a late-night phone call from the headmaster of the prestigious private school founded by her grandfather where her adopted son Scott teaches. Allegations of Scott's involvement in a hazing scandal cause a ripple effect, throwing the entire family into chaos. For Charles, Sylvie's biological son, it dredges up a ghost from the past who is suddenly painfully present. For his wife Joanna, it forces her to reevaluate everything she's hoped for in the golden Bates-McAllisters. And for Scott, it illuminates harsh truths about a world he has never truly felt himself a part of.
But for all the Bates-McAllisters, the call exposes a tangled web of secrets that ties the family together: the mystery of the school hazing, the event that tore Charles and Scott apart the night of their high school awards ceremony, and the intended recipient of a certain bracelet. The quest to unravel the truth takes the family on individual journeys across state lines, into hospitals, through the Pennsylvania woods, and face-to-face with the long-dormant question: what if the life you always planned for and dreamed of isn't what you want after all?
This story brings us into the lives of a privileged American family as they are struggling to try to hold onto the life that they know. Sylvie was fortunate enough to inherit her grandfather's mansion early on in her marriage, but I don't think that she realized how this windfall would impact her family life. Her grandfather worked hard building the family business and making a name for himself and was quite an asset to the local community. When the private high school was about to shut down, he bailed them out, resulting in becoming the lead shareholder from the endeavor.
It seemed to me that the family's involvement with the private school, Swithin, was where many of the problems unfolded for this family. Sylvie always said that if it weren't for her grandfather, Swithin would not even be here today. She finds herself becoming troubled when she hears of how her grandfather treated the less privileged people in their community. She has to come to terms with the fact that her grandfather was not the upstanding citizen that she always thought.
As Sylvie is dealing with the new revelations about her grandfather, she is also still mourning the loss of her husband. It hasn't been that long since he passed away in such a quick and swift manner, and it seemed that they left so many things unspoken and unanswered. Sylvie had suspected that he was having an affair but she really had no idea who he was seeing or even the extent of their relationship.
Sylvie's sons seemed to have suffered the most growing up under the McAllister name. Scott was adopted by the Bates-McAllister's at a young age and their father seemed to show more love and understanding to him than to their older son Charles. This created turmoil between the two brothers throughout their lives that they never seemed to be able to overcome. All of their relationships are pushed to the boiling point during a high school celebration when Scott uncovers a secret that leaves their relationships torn and tattered.
After that high school blow out all of the family members just seem to be living life day to day, without plans of improving themselves or moving on in any way. It was so sad to see this family stuck in a kind of limbo that wouldn't allow them to experience any happiness. When Scott finds himself the center of an investigation at the Swithin private school, each of the family members start to evaluate their lives and the events that have happened since that long ago afternoon. Confronting the past and their own demons will help each of them move on to being the people that they really want to be.
This was a good story, but there was something within the pages that I just didn't love. It certainly isn't a feel good book, but that has not prevented me from enjoying stories in the past. Maybe it was the fact that I have always believed that if you just give children whatever they want in life, you are helping them to fail. This family obviously had everything handed to them on a silver platter, and their lives may have looked fine and dandy from the outside, but from the inside they were being ripped to shreds. I only touched on a few of the relationship issues that were apparent in this novel, but even though I didn't love it, I still think that this novel would make a good book club discussion with themes of families, secrets, and revelations.
My Rating: 3/5
Disclosure: This e-book was provided to me by the publisher through the Netgalley program in exchange for an honest review.
Now for the giveaway!
I will be giving away one trade paperback copy of this book to give away.
To enter this contest you must be at least 18 and live in the U.S. or Canada. No PO Boxes please.
For one entry leave me a comment including your email address below.
For two additional entries, blog about this contest or add the link to your sidebar.
Please include your email so I will have a way to contact you if you win. Use a spam-thwarting format such as myemail.address AT gmail DOT com or myemail.address [at] gmail [dot] com.
You will have until November 10th to enter and I will draw for a winner on or after November 11th.
Good luck Everyone!
**This giveaway is closed.**