REVIEW: FAULTLINES, BY BARBARA TAYLOR SISSEL

faultlines

 

 

 

 

It’s the phone call every parent dreads: in the middle of the night, Sandy Cline learns that her twenty-year-old son, Jordan, has been in a car accident. Her nephew, Travis, was also in the car, along with Travis’s girlfriend. All three are alive—but barely. The car was smashed against a tree along a remote and winding road, beautiful but deadly, in their rural Texas Hill Country town.

In the wake of the car crash, the close-knit family is tested like never before. Jenna, Travis’s mother, blames Jordan—as well as her sister, Sandy—after reports surface that Jordan had been driving. As the young adults struggle to survive, tension between their parents escalates. But when trust is broken and a shocking family secret is exposed, it creates a perfect storm of harrowing consequences. Rumors in the small town spread like wildfire. When details of the accident are questioned, Sandy and Jenna wonder if their family has been destroyed beyond repair.

 

My Thoughts: From the first moments, I immersed myself in the story of a family suffering one of the worst events that can happen to parents: a child in danger, possibly because of something reckless one of them did. Set in the Texas hill country, in a small town named Wyatt, we are offered a glimpse of the people, the setting, and how families cope in tragic moments.

Sandy, mother to Jordan, is blindsided when her sister Jenna, Travis’s mother, reveals a long-hidden secret in front of the family. And in a hurtful way.

It was easy to see that she acted out of pain, but the consequences would be long-standing, and the bitterness would last for the foreseeable future.

Emmett, Sandy’s husband, reacts to the revelation by leaving Sandy in the lurch…and ultimately, creating another chasm in the family.

Jordan makes another discovery that will lead him to an older woman named Libby Hennessey, whose husband Beck is somehow connected to him.

Meanwhile, so many events seem to collide and come together, in an almost domino effect, that had me, as a reader, wondering how everything would unfold. Why is the small town detective, Officer Huckabee, seemingly targeting Jordan? Why is he obsessed with Jenna, Travis’s mother? Who is cutting up and killing animals and displaying them on Libby’s property?

As the secrets, lies, and mistaken choices slowly come together, Faultlines reveals more of the darkness that lies within a small town and in a family, but also provides a glimpse of moments of healing. A five star read.

cropped-again-5***

PARALLEL UNIVERSES — COPING WITH GRIEF — A REVIEW

What if your perfect life morphed into something dark and dreary, with one day following the next in slow motion? And what if you tried all the suggestions of your friends—like grief group, or keeping busy—until finally, one day, you just had to try something completely off the grid?

In Rabbit Hole, we meet Becca and Howie eight months after their four-year-old son is killed when he chases his dog into the street. They are living like soldiers in parallel foxholes—or rabbit holes, if you will. The connections they once shared are slowly disappearing. And then we see them putting one foot in front of the other until the journey seemingly brings them back to one another.

Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart are fabulous as the grieving parents. Diane Wiest portrays Becca’s mother, a slightly ditzy and graying woman who frequently puts her foot in her mouth, but who at one point, shares something kind of deep about the nature and longevity of grief. She tells her daughter that it is always there, but eventually, it’s like you come out from under the weight of the loss; it turns into something smaller, like a brick, that you carry in your pocket…always with you, but you’re not always aware of it. It’s familiar and you don’t mind it as much anymore.

A sad, yet uplifting journey of recovery that earned five stars from me.