||June 1, 2008
Itís often difficult for me to characterize my books, and Before the Storm is no exception. Itís part suspense, part mystery, and one hundred percent family drama. Itís about how far family members will go to protect one another. Itís about the choices people make that come back to haunt them. And itís about the gradual unfolding of truths that keep the characters on edge and those pages turning.
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Fifteen-year-old Andy Lockwood is special. Others notice the way he blurts out anything that comes into his mind, how he cannot foresee consequences, that he's more child than teenager. But his mother sees a boy with a heart as open and wide as the ocean.
Laurel Lockwood lost her son once through neglect. She's spent the rest of her life determined to make up for her mistakes, and she's succeeded in becoming a committed, protective parent—maybe even over-protective. Still, she loosens her grip just enough to let Andy attend a local church social—a decision that terrifies and infuriates her when the church is consumed by fire. But Andy survives...and remarkably, saves other children from the flames. Laurel watches as Andy basks in the role of unlikely hero and the world finally sees her Andy, the sweet boy she knows as well as her own heart.
But when the suspicion of arson is cast upon Andy, Laurel must ask herself how well she really knows her son...and how far she'll go to keep her promise to protect him forever.
They took my baby from me when he was only ten hours old.
Jamie named him Andrew after his father, because it seemed fitting. We tried the name out once or twice to see how it felt in our mouths. Andrew. Andy. Then, suddenly, he was gone. Iíd forgotten to count his fingers or note the color of his hair. What sort of mother forgets those things?
I fought to get him back, the way a drowning person fights for air.
A full year passed before I held him in my arms again. Finally, I could breathe, and I knew I would never, ever let him go.
Chamberlain lays out her latest piece of romantic suspense in a shattered chronology that's as graceful as it is perfectly paced. Most of the adults in the tightly knit coastal community of Topsail Island, N.C., accept the widowed Laurel Lockwood's 15-year-old mentally disabled son, Andy. But when Andy saves many of the town's youth during a tragic fire, he becomes a local hero who garners national attention. Laurel, caught up with making sure Andy is okay, thinks daughter Maggie, a high school senior, can handle herself. What Maggie hides from everyone are her slipping grades, a taboo affair and a terrible secret, and when the fire's origins are investigated and Andy is a person of interest, events turn progressively darker for the family. Long, juicy flashbacks cover the mysteries of Laurel's husband's death, of Andy's condition and of Laurel's preoccupation with him. Chamberlain offers no easy solutions, but her engrossing prose leads the way to redemption.
New York Times best-selling author, Mary Alice Monroe
Diane Chamberlain is the Southern Jodi Picoult.
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