Ben, a public defense lawyer, has an explosive temper and his family tiptoes around him, never knowing what is going to set him off. His wife Maddy, a social worker, takes prescription pills every day to take the edge off, to keep her own emotions under wraps for fear of triggering his, and to blunt the effect of his irrational eruptions. All three of the Illica children, Emma, Gracie, and Caleb, know that their father is extremely volatile and try not to provoke him either. Even when Ben isn't home, incidents like breaking a glass are weighed in light of his probable reaction. Theirs is not a terribly happy home. And it's about to get even worse.
On a day when both Ben and Maddy have work commitments and things are already fraught between them because of the kids' schedules, Maddy gets pulled over and her car is towed for an expired registration. She calls Ben to rescue her from a rough part of town, which he grudgingly does. Then, because he is late, rushing, and angry, he gets caught in a driving contest with another driver on the wet Boston roads, losing control of the car in the pouring rain and crashing. Maddy is thrown from the car and ends up in a coma with a traumatic brain injury. If the days of waiting to see if Maddy would come out of the coma were tough, life afterwards is even tougher. Fourteen year old Emma has to take charge of her younger siblings, shouldering more responsibility than a young teenager should have to do, and feeling the injustice of every moment of it. Ben has to adjust to the wife who needs so much more than he's ever given her before and to his own slowly dawning understanding of his own culpability in the whole situation. Maddy is frustrated with her own slow progress and furious with blame as she tries to understand the kind of life that she wants to lead going forward.
Ben, Maddy, and Emma all narrate sections of the novel, giving the reader insight into their personal understandings of the situation. Ben is likely to flare up at anything and he is definitely emotionally abusive but it is also made clear by the time we spend in his head that he does in fact love Maddy even if he doesn't acknowledge his own anger management issues. Maddy has so deadened herself in dealing with Ben's rages that she is teaching her children the wrong thing and when she finds out the truth about the accident that changed her life forever, she has some big decisions to make. Each of the three main characters is quite complex, neither entirely good nor entirely bad, allowing the reader to want this family to improve, for Ben's desire to change to be real, and for them to heal the gaping cracks. The pacing is generally slow and measured, much like Maddy's own recovery, sometimes slower and sometimes more accelerated. The end of the novel seems a bit abrupt and unfinished, again much like Maddy's recovery. But the portions about Maddy's injury and how she is healing, what her particular traumatic brain injury means in terms of now and the future is rather fascinating, and that it gives her the chance to remember, see, and own her past reality without a chemical veil obscuring everything brings the story to its climax. This is a thought-provoking family drama about injuries, physical and emotional, and whether or not a wreck is worth salvaging even if that wreck is your marriage and family.
website, her Facebook page, her Twitter feed, her Pinterest page or the book's Goodreads page. Follow the rest of the blog tour or look at the amazon reviews for others' thoughts and opinions on the book.
Thanks to Trish from TLC Book Tours and the publisher for sending me a copy of the book for review.