FIRST CAME US by Rachel Cullen


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A loving marriage is thrown into jeopardy when a secret from the past threatens to expose a costly mistake in Cullen’s (Only Summer, 2018, etc.) novel.

Jack and Ellie Miller have a solid marriage; they’ve been together for 18 years and have three healthy kids and successful careers. Life is generally quiet and predictable in their quaint Connecticut town with daily soccer games, carpooling dates, and family activities at home. For Jack and Ellie, any responsibilities outside the house are purely professional; Jack teaches economics at Yale University, and Ellie runs her own popular yoga studio. But they’re human, after all, and make mistakes—and one that Jack made 19 years ago has come back to haunt him. He’s suddenly thrown into a panic as he realizes that his past transgression has the power to destroy his marriage. Then it turns out that Ellie is pregnant. As the couple struggles with new revelations, they must also deal with their teenage daughter Sydney’s rebellious nature. Will Jack and Ellie be able to embrace the truth in time to save their marriage and family? The dialogue is snappy and contemporary, with moments of wit. Because each chapter is told from the first-person perspective of a specific character, readers get intriguing access to their private thoughts, such as this passage, narrated by Ellie: “ ‘I’ll see you in the morning,’ I say to Jack, blowing him a kiss as I turn to go upstairs, something that only old married couples must do.” Cullen realistically portrays the dynamics of a long-term couple struggling to juggle work and family commitments, with all the stress and conflict they entail. Sydney’s personal crisis adds an unexpected complication to the plot, and it’s compelling to see how Jack and Ellie handle their own problems while trying to remain proactive parents.

A provocative read about love and forgiveness.

Pub Date: Feb. 5th, 2020
Page count: 316pp
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services
Program: Kirkus Indie
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