By: Karma Brown
Publisher: Park Row Books
Publication Date: 5/30/2017
My Rating: 4 Stars
Bestselling author Karma Brown returns following The Choices We Make (2016) with an with an equally moving, emotional and riveting follow-up.
—IN THIS MOMENT a woman struggles with complexities of tragedy, guilt, and secrets as her life unravel along with those around her.
Meg Pepper is a wife and mom with a real estate career. Married to Ryan, a physician. Daughter Aubrey age fifteen (boyfriend Sam Beckett).
Meg and Aubrey are running late for a dentist appointment and Meg is picking up her daughter at school. She is struggling to balance family and career and has not been completely honest about an event in her past.
They notice Jack (Sam’s twin brother) on the side of the road attempting to get across. His mom is a financial whiz and works at one of Boston’s private equity firms. The boy’s dad Andrew is a stay at home dad, having left a journalism career when the twin boys were born.
Jack has his skateboard on the curb’s edge in one hand waiting for the car coming toward their car to pass so he can cross. His friends are on the other side waiting. Aubrey tells her mom they should let him cross. She waves him across. A life-changing split-second choice.
However, just as she does so, the unthinkable happens. Jack’s body smashes into the windshield of the other car which came out of nowhere, too fast. Aubrey and Meg are mortified. How did this happen?
Sarah Dunn, Audrey and Jack’s history teacher was texting and had to stop too quickly.
However, it is Meg’s guilt, which haunts her.
She was the one who deemed it a safe crossing for this innocent and clearly vulnerable teenager now lying in the road with an injury that will forever change his life. How could she have let the boy cross the street?
The accident turns into a nightmare for all concerned.
Meg is suddenly slammed with a memory from when she was sixteen; from a terrible night where another teen lay bleeding and broken on a road in front of her. She has worked hard not to think about that night because she cannot breathe around her guilt when she does so. But just like that, it was back and she was left sucking in air around the heaviness of the memory—
And like the part she played on that night so long ago, she was the reason Jack Beckett cross the road when he did. It is her fault. With a simple careless wave of her hand, she did this.
Soon they are at the hospital and she faces the family. With her daughter dating the brother, and even though the family may not be close friends they know one another through their children.
Meg becomes overwhelmed with guilt. Her family and Jack and Sam’s family torn apart. Meg becomes close to Andrew as her terrifying dreams continue. The past and present collide. She is thinking about Paige. Her friend from the past. Her face haunts her.
It has been twenty-eight years since that horrible night. Now the dreams surface again. Two days after Ryan slid the engagement ring on her finger. Only a week after her twenty-fifth birthday, when she learned her mom had cancer. Ryan in pre-med. A woman who had to grow up too fast. A sister who had to take care of her little brother and her dad.
Meg throws herself into helping the family and drawing closer to Andrew. Shutting out her own family in the process, especially her own husband. He knows the truth about the accident long ago, but he has never understood why she holds herself responsible. She carries it inside. She is spiraling out of control.
Andrew turns to Meg for support, and the two bond over the tragedy, putting at risk her marriage, family and her own moral compass.
Will these two families ever be the same?
As the past secrets and guilt collide with the present, Meg is at her breaking point. Emotional and heartbreaking, a picture-perfect life comes shattering apart in the blink of an eye. A wife and mother striving for perfection and balance with personal, career, and family.
She is searching for answers yet she cannot trust herself, to be honest through her grief with the weight from the accident of long ago and the one in the present.
Once again, Brown delves deep, exploring the intense emotions and pressure of guilt, grief, parenting, marriage, accountability, and responsibility. However, in the end, family comes first and that has to take top priority. If we let that slide, all will begin to unravel.
Brown has proven herself a strong voice representing the trials of the modern-day contemporary woman. I enjoyed reading about the inspiration behind the novel. Publishers Weekly interview. Spotlight on Karma Brown.
A cautionary tale. This scenario could happen to anyone. My heart went out to Meg and the author does an exceptional job with the character development.
If you have read Karma’s previous books, she has a way with domestic suspense, tragedy, emotion, grief and aftermath – which hits on every cylinder. She holds nothing back and you get inside her character’s heads. You feel the emotions. Their desperation. Their vulnerabilities. The character’s emotions are real, heartbreaking, raw, and painful.
The past tragedy and present storyline enhanced the overall tension and suspense, keeping you glued to the pages while demonstrating how guilt can hold you down and shape your life years later.
For today’s contemporary woman who sometimes strives too hard to be perfect. Thought-provoking in our fast and furious world today. Learning to forgive yourself in order to move on with your life.
For fans of Amy Hatvany, Jodi Picoult, Diane Chamberlain, Liane Moriarty, Karen White, Heather Gudenkauf, Sarah Pekkanen, and T. Greenwood.
A special thank you to Park Row Books and NetGalley for an early reading copy.
On a side note: This road crossing fiasco is a real problem here. I walk everywhere in the downtown urban area of West Palm Beach and there are two major crossings which are quite busy from my apartment. A crossing with four busy lanes to the market and shops and no way around it. The only route. Many times a car in one lane will stop to allow you to pass, at the crossing (no light here).
However, you cannot trust this, just as the book outlines— because the person in the other lane may not stop and the speed here is very fast. This is quite dangerous since a large number of elderly seniors live downtown, and walk to the store along this route. They are already quite unsteady in their walkers, wheelchairs, and scooters. I cringe each time I see this happen, holding my breath.
These elderly folks are like in their late 70s-90s and still trying to live independently in this crazy screwed up health care system of ours, which offer little or no support for long-term skilled nursing. (many of them living in my building).
When this happens to me, I motion for the car to pass along. Nice for them to make the gesture; however, a risk as the author outlines. Too much room for error when you cannot judge if the car in the other lanes will stop. In addition, we soon will have a train going 80mph at this same intersection with the station located here, with 40 stops a day coming mid-summer, so let’s hope they build an overpass or some alternative for all the S. Florida seniors. (myself included since I fall into this newfound category).