Grace Barnett awakens early one Sunday morning in May 1975 to find herself the only witness to a fatal boating accident. This event is just the beginning of a difficult but life-changing summer for the eighteen year old who has spent her entire life on Back Creek. Grace will see her mother leave the family and her estranged sister return on the same day, with her father falling apart after his wife’s departure. Grace must keep him together while unraveling the mysteries presented by her mother and sister, as well as surviving her own coming of age.
A first effort for Leslie Goetsch, the book has a writing style evocative of the modern Southern novel. It is a quiet, gentle book that flows across the pages just as the fictional Back Creek wends its way through the Virginia Tidewater. Goetsch’s love for her roots shows through on each page, and Grace is someone that you want to get to know and support. The story itself has mystery, romance, and an appealing dysfunction that you can’t help but appreciate. Extended character and plot development would only improve the book; in many ways, it feels as if details are missing or omitted. That being said, it is a fine first novel and one that I would recommend for older teens and adult fans of Anne Rivers Siddons and Jill McCorkle.