A fast-paced novel about romantic relationships, parent-child relationships and teacher-student relationships.
In addition to demonstrating an impressive grasp of the psychology of these relationships, the author spices up the various stories with interesting facts gleaned from an impressive knowledge of the glass-blowing art, culinary arts, physics and the game of basketball, as well as the business of finding and defusing bombs in Afghanistan. She appears to have firsthand experience, or perhaps has listened carefully to people who have had firsthand experience, with every kind of highly specialized activity her characters perform. The primary story involves the romance between Claire Templeton, an artist and single mother of a budding basketball star, and Dillon Slater, an ex-Marine who returned from Afghanistan, entered a program called Troops to Teachers, and began teaching high school physics and coaching basketball. Woven into this main story are the equally interesting and authentic subsidiary stories of the women Claire meets in the small Oregon town of Shelter Bay, where she moves with her son from Los Angeles in order to remove him from bad influences there. One woman has escaped an abusive husband with the help of an underground group dedicated to helping battered women. Another character runs the no-kill shelter for dogs where Claire eventually adopts a couple of canine companions, much to her son’s delight. The descriptions and dialogue seem absolutely real. The narrative voice has a humor and rhythm that is fun to read; the teenagers walk the walk and talk the talk of real teenagers, and the conversations among the adults are witty, kind and meaningful.
Dillon Slater, who possesses a high level of ethics and intelligence and a completely charming humor, is easy to fall in love with.