Author: Carla Buckley
Published: September 25, 2012
Genre: contemporary fiction
eBook: approx. 400 pages
Source: borrowed from the library
My Rating: 3 stars
Synopsis (from GoodReads): Growing up, Dana Carlson and her older sister, Julie, are inseparable—Dana the impulsive one, Julie calmer and more nurturing. But then a devastating secret compels Dana to flee from home, not to see or speak to her sister for sixteen years.
When she receives the news that Julie is seriously ill, Dana knows that she must return to their hometown of Black Bear, Minnesota, to try and save her sister. Yet she arrives too late, only to discover that Black Bear has changed, and so have the people in it. Julie has left behind a shattered teenage daughter, Peyton, and a mystery—what killed Julie may be killing others, too. Why is no one talking about it? Dana struggles to uncover the truth, but no one wants to hear it, including Peyton, who can’t forgive her aunt’s years-long absence. Dana had left to protect her own secrets, but Black Bear has a secret of its own—one that could tear apart Dana’s life, her family, and the whole town.
My Thoughts: The description of this novel is what really pulled me in (the cover does nothing for me) and I thought that it would be a really good thriller to read. Afterall, doesn't it intrigue you as to why Dana left and what is this secret that could tear apart the whole town? Carla Buckley explores what happens to a woman who returns home after being away for years and years, only to discover that not only have people changed, but something is changing people. There is a higher occurence of kidney failure in this area that is thought to be normal. Julie has just passed because of renal failure, and while she started to investigate, it's now up to her sister Dana to figure out what is hurting the town. The chapters alternate between Dana, who returns home to find that her sister has died and left behind a husband and teenage daughter; and Peyton, Julie's daughter and someone who is now motherless and dealing with an aunt who she just met a few days ago.
I really liked the character of Dana and thought that the chapters told from her persepctive were the best. As an outsider in the town, she does see things differently than the people that never left, and she does find it odd that there is such a high occurence of kidney-related diseases in the area, even when the doctors don't seem to be concerned. Peyton's chapters were sometimes boring and I think it was because she wasn't contributing to solving the mystery of what is affecting this town. I loved her little ocean-facts at the beginning of each chapter, because they definitely played out with humans and it was interesting to see the connections between the way of life in the ocean and that on land.
My biggest problem with this book was that it sounded like it would be more of a thriller than it actually was. Except for about five pages, it wasn't all that gripping. Sure, there was a mystery going on, but it played second fiddle to the return of Dana to Black Bear and all the stress that she must deal with. I just wish that there had been more of a thriller aspect to it, because then I think that this book could have been phenomenal. On that note, I would like to read more of Carla Buckey's work in the future because this was an interesting read, especially with her research into environmental issues.