I listened to the audio version of this story a few weeks ago and will never forget it. I’d read / listened to Charles Martin before (The Dead Don’t Dance, Where the River Ends, Wrapped in Rain, The Mountain Between Us), so I knew the journey would involve both my mind and my heart. This expectation was not disappointed.
I think a digital or print version would have enhanced the experience, making it easier to keep track of the hop-scotching plot. But even with that non-visual disadvantage, the story pulled me in easily.
Reese tells his story in first person, beginning with winsome little Annie Stephens selling lemonade in the small town near where Reese lives. When he discovers Annie’s story, Reese once again faces his own story, his and Emma’s, which leads us to who and what he is and the haunting background that led him to this out-of-the-way place along the Tallulah River.
Setting is an important aspect of this story. From the hidden bays and backwoods of the Lake Burton area to the hospitals in the city, from the laid-back rural life to the intensity of urban society, the setting is strong and influential to the story.
Martin’s writing is lyrical; the story is poignant. Characters, both main and supporting, are fully fleshed out. They speak and move true to their character. Everything that happens has a reason, even if the reason is not easily obvious.
Charles Martin writes this book in a non-linear fashion, which works well, adding tension with each leap from now to then. Rather like putting together the pieces of a puzzle and placing the last one with satisfaction.
Only once did I take exception to Martin’s choice of scene placement. One of the pivotal scenes of the story ends at a crisis point, slanted so the reader assumes one direction. Then, after several intervening scenes, we realize we’ve been duped. The outcome was not at all as we suspected.
Other than that particular misleading point of tension, I would give this book five stars. It’s captivating and definitely worth the read, another immutable image for your story heart.