A Hand to Hold in Deep Water
Blackstone, 2021 (2021)
Reviewed by Rheta Van Winkle
hen Willy welcomes his stepdaughter Lacey and her daughter Tasha for a long-deferred visit home, he has no idea what challenges await him. He has doted on Lacey ever since he met her mother May and her five-year-old daughter. After Willy and May were married, he considered himself the luckiest man in the world until just eight months after their wedding, when little Lacey saw her mother climb into a truck that tore out of the parking lot, leaving her behind. Lacey was angry at her mother's inexplicable desertion, and Willy had his reasons for not trying to find her. May had been acting strangely for several weeks before she left.
hortly after Lacey's birth, May and the baby moved in with her aunt and uncle, who lived above their store in the small town near Willy's farm in Maryland. May had left Lacey behind before, going home to Okracoke, North Carolina, where she had a boyfriend. When she returned, she was bloodied from a terrible beating, and although the boyfriend had been barred from seeing her again, his truck was the one she left in. Willy was hurt and confused by her desertion.
Hand to Hold in Deep Water
is beautifully written. We learn about Willy, Lacey, and May through their own words and thoughts, but the other characters are just as deeply drawn. Although the story is hard to read in places, there is humor, too. Lacey and Willy are the main characters, but Tasha's father and teenage half-sister and the other relatives provide a wealth of family interactions. Lacey can't imagine what would cause a mother to leave her little girl behind, but this only adds to her anger with May.
loved this book. I read it slowly, savoring the interweaving stories. The mysteries surrounding Lacey's birth and May's departure are revealed little by little through flashbacks and May's journal, as the story of Tasha's illness proceeds in the present time.
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