Wright has crafted an emotion packed character driven mystery that combines a contemporary story with one over a century ago.
In the contemporary story, Heidi visits her older sister and institutionalized mother in Pleasant Valley after receiving a letter from her mother. She is shocked to see an old photo of a woman who looks just like her. Relationships are strained as Heidi tries to find out who that woman was and why there is an uncanny resemblance.
In the historical story, Thea visits Pleasant Valley to find information about her unknown parents. Left at an orphanage as a child, she has a few clues that lead her to an insane asylum and the unraveling of mysteries.
I like how Wright develops the stories in parallel, uncovering mysteries as both stories progress. There are secrets from their pasts that endanger both women.
There are several issues Wright touches upon in this novel. Heidi, with an anxiety disorder, had been misdiagnosed as a child. Her parents would not accept her behavior and did not seek professional help for her. She had coped as well as she knew how but alienated people in the process.
Another issue is how mental patients were treated in the past. Yet another issue deals with ancestors. What impact do the character and actions of ancestors have on people?
Wright has a way of writing that drew me into the action. When Thea went into a cold room, the way the scene was written, I shivered. And there are eerie happenings going on in both stories. Christians don't believe in ghosts or haunting, but something very odd is going on and Wright's great writing style made it very intense.
I recommend this novel to readers who enjoy a well crafted one narrating two stories with similar threads running through them. Many scenes are full of intense emotion and mystery. There is a group discussion guide included and I could imagine a great discussion over this book at a reading group.
My rating: 5/5 stars.
Jaime Jo Wright is the Christy Award-Winning author of The House on Foster Hill. She is also the Publishers Weekly and ECPA bestselling author of two novellas. She works as a human resources director in Wisconsin, where she lives with her husband and two children. You can find out more at www.jamiewrightbooks.com.
Bethany House Publisher, 380 pages.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.