Set in the coastal town of Beaufort, North Carolina, Fischer’s (Becalmed, 2013, etc.) novel focuses on a multifarious cast whose very different lives end up intertwining in ways they never expected.
After being abused by her ex, Roy, young Annie Mac vows to protect her two children, Katie and Tyler. At the start of the novel, barbarous Roy comes to Annie Mac’s home to claim Katie, the 4-year-old biological daughter he has been sexually abusing. When he can’t find the young girl (she’s in hiding), he nearly beats Annie Mac to death before fleeing the scene to escape law enforcement. Fortuitously, while the beating is in progress, another Beaufort resident, Hannah Morgan, heads out to walk her dog, and she discovers Annie Mac’s two young children cowering in fear under a bush. After she makes sense of the scene, Hannah rushes to help Annie Mac, who asks her neighbor to care for the children while she receives medical care, pleading: “Hide my babies. Please. Please.” At first, Hannah and her husband, Matthew, who never had children, are hesitant to welcome two young strangers into their home, but Hannah begins to fall in love with the children and feel maternally protective of them. She also realizes that Roy is on the loose and willing to stop at nothing to get his hands on the little girl. As the novel unfolds, the entire town of Beaufort joins forces—from Clay, the closed-off, lonely police lieutenant, to Rita, the town lawyer who’s expecting a child herself—in an attempt to keep the family safe from its abuser. Fischer’s novel examines several weighty themes: domestic and sexual abuse, lost pregnancies, and the fear of letting one’s guard down to make a human connection. At times, the dark and depressing subject matter can feel too heavy, with no lightness built in to balance the bleakness. However, the book’s strengths lie in its suspense and vivid characters, whose personalities and small-town relationships are truly believable.
A heavy, suspenseful North Carolina novel about
parenthood, human connection, and how to make peace with the cards you’re dealt.