Diane Chamberlain’s books are very much in the same vein as Jodi Picoult’s, coming from the angle of ‘what would you do if….?’ In this case, what would you do if you were homeless and desperate for money to look after your child? And what would you do if a man left his young daughter with you without telling you where he was going or when he’d be back? This book tells the story from the point of view of both of these characters, plus the girl’s mother, whom she has never known. I really like this narrative style as you get different insights into the same event.
Travis is a loving father to Bella, but when his house burns down and his mother dies he ends up in a desperate situation. He meets
in a coffee shop and a tentative friendship ensues, with Bella as the conduit. Erin
has recently lost her own daughter and although she has been avoiding other
children, she is drawn by Bella’s charm and intrigued by the situation she and
her father seem to be in. Travis takes a gamble that Erin will take care of Bella while he tries to earn some money, but Erin's trust in Travis is stretched when he doesn't return. Meanwhile, Bella's mother, Robin, is finding herself questioning her fiance and his family and the life she is about to commit to. Her teenage sister-in-law to be has just had a baby which opens the floodgates of memories and emotions for Robin, who hasn't seen Bella since she was a newborn.
While at times a little bit predictable, I found the story gripping nonetheless. I really wanted everything to work out for Travis and Bella. The plight of little Bella really pulled on my emotions (perhaps more-so as a mother of a similar-aged daughter). I also really related to
a mother who has recently lost her own daughter in a tragic accident and is
working through the grieving process. Her relationship with Bella is the last
thing she thinks she wants but ends up being immensely helpful for her. The
heartstrings also get a strong tug from Robin's story. But this isn't just an emotional story, there's plenty of action and my heart did race at times - not good for pre-bedtime reading!
There are a number of compelling secondary characters and sub-plots - I'm sure there could be a whole other book about the Hendrick family and the other residents of Beaufort. And perhaps, hopefully, there will. I will certainly be working my way through Diane Chamberlain's back catalogue until her next book!