After her mother’s death twelve years ago, Lynette Carlisle watched her close-knit family unravel. One by one, her four older siblings left their Nantucket home and never returned. All seem to blame their father for their mother’s death, but nobody will talk about that tragic day. And Lynette’s memory only speaks through nightmares. Then Nicholas Cooper returns to Nantucket, bringing the past with him. Once Lynette’s adolescent crush, Nick knows more about her mother’s death than he lets on. The truth could tear apart his own family—and destroy his fragile friendship with Lynette, the woman he no longer thinks of as a kid sister. As their father’s failing health and financial concerns bring the Carlisle siblings home, secrets surface that will either restore their shattered relationships or separate the siblings forever. But pulling up anchor on the past propels them into the perfect storm, powerful enough to make them question their faith, their willingness to forgive, and the very truth of all the things they thought they knew.
Lynette Carlisle was just a young girl when she lost her mother under tragic circumstances. Her older siblings blamed their father and one by one were quick to grow up and move out of Wyldewood, the family estate in Nantucket, MA. As for Lynette, roughly 12 years have passed and she still has virtually no recollection of the events of that night, save for one vague memory of hiding in a closet while sirens wailed in the distance. That, and years of nightmares that terrify her but still tell her nothing.
All of Lynette's siblings have moved out and moved on to their own adult lives now, yet Lynette, now an adult herself, has remained in the family home to care for her father whose mental faculties and finances are rapidly dwindling. Wyldewood is a huge house to upkeep, and even with the combination of her father's pension, her income from her daycare assistant job and selling some of her artwork here and there for a bit extra, they're still barely making ends meet. Lynette gradually finds herself having to consider putting the family home up for sale and her father in a assisted living facility. There's a certain sad humor in the fact that while Lynette struggles to remember her past, the past progressively becomes nearly the only thing her father can clearly recall!
To complicate her emotions even more, Lynette discovers her childhood crush, Nicholas Cooper, has moved back to town. The estranged best friend of Lynette's brother, Gray, Nicholas has returned to Nantucket to help run his father's bank (even though the relationship between them is strained, to say the least). Nicholas was like a surrogate brother to Lynette for much of her childhood, but the last time she saw him was on her 19th birthday, when they shared a kiss ... and then he moved out of town & her life right after. Now working at the local bank, he becomes a financial advisor to her on the matter of Wyldewood but unbeknownst to Lynette, Nicholas knows exactly what happened the night her mother died. The problem is, if he reveals what he knows he risks not only tarnishing the reputation of his own family but also the romantic connection steadily growing between him and Lynette. Lucky for him though, the time for revelations gets delayed thanks to Lynette's focus on getting all her siblings back home to discuss the future of Wyldewood. Bringing everyone together soon reveals the necessity for each person to face the skeletons of their past head-on, if anyone is to have any sort of chance at sustained emotional health & peace.
This novel had an attractive environment going for it, taking place on the island of Nantucket, but really I thought the whole coastal vibe could've been played up more than it was. I didn't feel much that seemed quintessential Nantucket specifically, just characters wandering the beach or going to a local diner to eat bowls of chowder. Literally could've been ANY coastal town.
I also found the characters and the plot itself to be pretty flat. Virtually no surprises for me plot wise. The dialogue was very bland and often it felt a little too scripted for my taste. Rather than being immersed in this town, I felt like I was more a distant observer watching a boring play where everyone recited their lines just so and then curtly exited stage left. When there were scenes of drama it was so overblown that it felt like the book equivalent of a soap opera. It has all the classic earmarks of soaps -- drug addiction, marital affairs, babies out of wedlock, even a wealthy businessman trying to pull off a shady real estate deal. Just mentally insert some swelling instrumentals around those scene breaks and you got yourself a heavily moralistic soap suitable for any of the inspirational / religious cable networks. The book even has a ready-to-go soap title!
It boggled my mind that characters could lose their minds over discovering one character's stint in rehab -- their behavior along the lines of "It's like we don't even KNOW you!" -- yet Lynette is awful quick to excuse a guy confessing he knowingly let a RAPE happen!
Note that this is just my personal experience with this book. There's a mountain of 4 and 5 star reviews for this one all over Goodreads & Amazon, so I'd say that if the plot intrigues you then grab a copy and try it for yourself. It just happened to miss the mark with this particular reviewer.
FTC Disclaimer: TNZ Fiction Guild kindly provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. The opinions above are entirely my own.