Jewel checks in on her parents every day, cleaning, feeding, and administering their medicine and she cares for her father's beauties (the horses) too all while struggling with issues in her own floundering marriage to Eddie and with her drug addicted daughter, Carley, and working in a job that doesn't feed her soul. She is stretched as thin as it is possible to be and she's deeply unhappy, as is evidenced by her hacking off her beautiful hair in the opening of the novel. She feels, and in fact seems to be, unappreciated by everyone in her life. When her parents inform her that her no-good alcoholic brother, the brother she loathes, is coming back and moving in with them, Jewel erupts, unwilling to continue to see her parents and the horses she loves if Cal is anywhere around. This line in the sand sets up unlikely coalitions and drives the central conflict of the novel.
The narration of the novel jumps amongst almost all of the characters, even including the horses, but only Jewel narrates in the first person. This makes her feelings and reasons the most intimate and immediate for the reader. Each of the other characters' stories occur in relation to Jewel. The perspective jumps to and from the other characters can be a little disconcerting at times and changes the narrative tension quite a bit. Hugo has drawn Jewel quite sensitively so that the decision she makes at the breaking point is certainly understandable. The rest of the characters are not quite as noble as Jewel and it is hard to be positive about their collusion with each other against her. The family is completely and totally dysfunctional, riddled with drugs and alcohol and terrible secrets making Hack and Louetta's aging and loss of independence that much sadder. Each character knows what he or she wants and is so enmeshed in his or her own needs that it is hard to read although this same selfishness makes them all so very human. As each pursues that which they want above all, they do all start to open to others, to grow, and to change and there is hope for these damaged characters to see clearly once more.
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Thanks to Lisa from TLC Book Tours and the publisher for sending me a copy of this book to review.