Mapson’s quirky, character-driven novels (The Owl & Moon Café, 2006, etc.) explore loneliness under the big skies of the West, and this effort is no exception as a young widow rebuilds her life on her Central California farm.
Though Glory Solomon’s husband died almost a year ago, she still sits in the closet with his clothes and cries. At least she has the animals to keep her going: goats and chickens, abandoned horses and two rescue dogs she is training for adoption. To help make ends meet she is using the farm as a wedding venue—her late husband Dan built a chapel on the property, which also boasts Solomon’s Oak, an ancient white oak that draws tourists and botanists from all over. Coupled with Glory’s cooking skills, the whole wedding thing just may save her from working another day at Target. And then along comes Juniper McGuire, a 14-year-old foster kid Glory hesitantly agrees to take in. She and Dan used to foster-parent boys, and under Dan’s gentle tutelage they became kind young men, but Glory’s not sure she can handle Juniper, an angry girl with facial piercings and a bluebird tattooed on her neck. But then a kind of fate intervenes as she discovers who Juniper is: Juniper’s older sister Casey was famously abducted four years earlier while walking her new dog—a rescue Glory herself gave the family and who made its way back to Glory’s farm the day of the kidnapping. When Juniper meets Cadillac again, the two become inseparable, and Glory thinks this relationship may save the girl from her own destruction. Despite school trouble with Juniper, Glory’s life is slowly improving—the chapel is getting more bookings and she meets Joseph Vigil, a former cop (living with chronic pain from a shooting that took his partner) who came to photograph Solomon’s Oak and has stuck around to help tutor Juniper. Mapson’s three damaged souls, and the ghosts in their lives, are able to find in each other just the thing to make life worth living.
A tender portrayal of those left behind in the wake of tragedy.