ROBERTA’S WOODS by Betty J. Cotter


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Think the energy crisis is painful now? Wait until 2013.

When college teacher Roberta Wilcox, her job lost, returns to her childhood home in Coward’s Hole, R.I., she finds that most of the inhabitants have fled to warmer climes because heating oil and gas are severely rationed and even food is hard to come by. But Roberta’s own family and their rural neighbors are resisting a government relocation plan that urges the hardy New Englanders to move closer to major cities, where they would use fewer precious resources in travel. Roberta’s halfsister wants her 89-year-old grandmother and widowed father to move into her home in town. Struggling to keep things going, often without electricity, Roberta helps her grandmother while her half sister constantly criticizes her efforts. As Roberta’s high-school boyfriend Steve Reynolds, who’s guarding secrets of his own, fans the flames of their old romance, Roberta finds herself attracted to her new neighbor, retired lawyer Lucas Whitford. Pushing his sawmill to turn out lumber despite his difficulties in getting fuel, her father maintains a puzzling relationship with their wealthy and heartily disliked neighbor Senator Frederick Maine, who bought the wooded lot that financed Roberta’s education. Roberta struggles to break through the web of secrets her family is hiding from her. Her feminist mother was killed in a mysterious car accident, and her father continues to blame her for the loss of his beloved land. Conspiracy theories abound among the Swamp Yankees, their trust in government never strong, as they fight to keep their homes and farms. Only after her father’s death and a near catastrophe does Roberta discover the secrets of the past and find hope for the future.

A plausibly chilling future scenario marred by a sugarcoated ending.

Pub Date: March 19th, 2008
ISBN: 978-1-59414-673-2
Page count: 321pp
Publisher: Five Star
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 2008