A tragedy brings a physician back to her small hometown, where life changes await.
Readers of this debut novel first meet Dr. Erin Pryce when she’s the calm center of a catastrophe. A massive highway pileup has swamped her hospital, Boston General, filling every available space and bed with desperate, injured people and stretching the facility’s resources to the breaking point. Erin is matter-of-factly trying to direct the chaos—including delivering a baby from a nonresponsive mother—when she briefly encounters her ex-husband, Peter (he’s answered the all-hands-on-deck call for help in the emergency room), whose mistress also works at the hospital. Erin brushes it off, and by the end of the day, she’s back at her apartment, exhausted, when she gets a phone call from her old friend Jenna Godfrey, who lives in their tiny hometown of New Dublin, Wisconsin. Jenna delivers some bad news: She’s dying of cancer. Erin had already decided to leave Boston General, and now she impulsively resolves to return to New Dublin and care for Jenna until the end, however long that takes. When Erin makes the decision, she’s only thinking of Jenna’s needs. But also living in New Dublin is Luke Mathis, now a very busy and upstanding detective and a man who’s always been in love with Erin. Homecoming is bittersweet for the doctor; she has complicated memories of her grandparents; her mother is dead; and she associates the town with her father, who’s been in prison for years. In richly atmospheric and smoothly written chapters, Carothers shows Erin’s life in New Dublin as it quickly begins to change. She learns, for example, that her father has been released from prison and lives in town; she’s gently confronted by Jenna about her lack of faith in God; and most of all, she falls into a surprisingly heated relationship with Luke (“Let me help you find yourself, Erin,” he tells her). The author is very skilled at crafting characters and convincingly raising the emotional stakes; this is eminently satisfying reading.
A powerful tale of homecoming and redemption.