The death of a close high school friend haunts a young couple in this debut novel.
Autumn Miller is working as a waitress at a restaurant in a small town, and it is her last day. She has spent the last few years saving money and has decided to go back to school. After a run-in with some terrible customers, she leaves work early but soon learns that the college has delayed her academic program until the following spring. Now that she is unemployed and won’t start school for eight more months, Autumn decides to take some money she inherited from her grandmother and buy an old farmhouse. Jensen Owens, a guy that Autumn was close to in high school, arrives in town, but she doesn’t immediately recognize him. Several years have passed, and Jensen has been drinking a lot and going from woman to woman, but something has called him back to his hometown. After reintroducing himself to Autumn, he ends up back at her place after she gets drunk at a bar one night. Autumn is in a relationship with a guy named Logan, but he is often absent, and Jensen soon takes his place. Autumn and Jensen share a traumatic memory that has linked them forever. Their good friend Jake died when they were in high school, and both Autumn and Jensen are wracked by feelings of guilt and horror concerning this tragedy. As Jensen’s battle with alcoholism comes to a head, visions of Jake start to haunt both him and Autumn. She has to decide whether she can save Jensen, should set him free, or perhaps both. Rose has written a sensitive story about fairly young people who are trying to rebuild their lives. The novel excels at showing how they wrestle with their personal demons, which in Jensen’s case have become all-consuming. The eerie, ghostly appearances of Jake add a different level to the tale, as the author tries to dissect the forces that lead people to do destructive things (“Jensen shook his head but Jake did not disappear. He would forever be eighteen years old with the same flyaway mussed brown hair”). Ruminations about feelings can slow things down a bit, but Rose has created a convincing setting with enough room for romance and a touch of the supernatural.
A perceptive, ghostly tale about two lovers struggling to find their way.