Sarah Jo Smith did a great job of showing attitudes towards premarital sex as well as the expectations placed on teenage girls in the early to mid-1960s (before The Pill). The author goes deep into her characters - something I always enjoy.
Grace pulled into the driveway of her childhood home, pea gravel crushing beneath balding tires, and turned off the ignition with relief. The waistband of her shorts cut into soft flesh, and her right knee locked into place for six hours as she pressed the gas pedal, ached to distraction. She twisted the rear view mirror toward her and groaned, wishing she'd kept that last hair appointment. Sweaty bangs clung to her forehead like little ropes, a result of the car's air conditioner that shot out sporadic blasts of heat. She tried fluffing her honey blond curls but nothing helped. She turned her head one way and then the other, examining herself with a critical eye, yet the result was the same. Exhaustion pulled at her, especially around the mouth. At thirty-two, she was too young to look this drained, but mirrors don't lie.
Teaser (from 41% on my Kindle):
Last year a senior girl left during Easter break and never returned. The talk was she went away to have a baby.
Genre: Women's Fiction
Amazon link: The Other Side of Heartache
Book Length: 344 pages
Author's Amazon Page: Sarah Jo Smith
Grace’s well-ordered world shatters when she loses her unborn child and her mother within a few months. Summoned to her childhood home to sort through Penny’s belongings, the timing couldn’t be worse. Grieving over her losses and exhausted from a demanding teaching schedule, she worries that her marriage is collapsing under the pressure. While packing her mother’s closet, Grace discovers a box filled with mysterious keepsakes and old diaries written in Penny’s hand and takes them home. After reading pages filled with typical musings of a teenage girl from a generation ago, she stumbles upon a dark secret and is devastated to learn that what she believed her whole life about her family was based on lies.
As Grace digs beneath the Rose family tree, she unearths more than one skeleton buried there. All the while, she must endure the wrath of her grandmother, Eleanor, who is determined to block her efforts to find out what happened when Penny was seventeen, as well as the underlying cause of her premature death. Yet Eleanor harbors a well-kept secret of her own, one more deceitful and calculating than Penny’s sin. Grace’s journey through an emotional labyrinth of passion, shame, and manipulation not only leads to more shocking revelations but also changes the course she had mapped for her life.
Through a story told in alternating voices between the past and present where old morals and double standards from the historical 1950s and ‘60s clash with modern day values, Grace must decide if it’s worth taking an unforeseen risk to reaffirm her belief in the power of love. BOOK GROUP GUIDE INCLUDED.
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