A Bend in the Willow by Susan Clayton-Goldner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A Bend In The Willow is women’s fiction and is the tale of one women with two names and separate lives which ultimately mesh together.
Robin Lee Carter grew up in Willowood Kentucky. Her father was an abusive drunk who suffered post war PTSD and he was violent towards all three of his children.
By the age of seventeen, Robin’s youngest brother had tied after an unattended head injury caused by her father, her mother had died of cancer and Robin had suffered ten years of sexual abuse from her father. One evening he raped her and broke her arm in his drunkenness, then fell asleep in oil covered overalls with a lit cigarette.
Robin fled the scene of the fire which resulted, with money to start a new life and her father’s child in her belly. She tried in vain to contact her older brother for a year after the fire, then gave up.
She gave her baby away and made a new life for herself eventually marrying again and having a new child. But when her son Michael is diagnose with a rare Leukemia she must face the past to see if her family are suitable bone marrow donors.
An emotional tale for both Robin and the people whose lives she had connections with. Her adopted son, like so many children, had many questions and set backs because of his adoption and the hopes he raised of being reunited with his birth mother. Husband Ben who was devastated to find his wife had lied to him about her past. And for Robin’s brother Kyle who went into a burning house believing he needed to rescue his sister and almost losing his own life because of his heroic actions.
My favourite character was Kyle’s daughter Loralee, her angelic childhood reasoning and determination to see the good in people and to want to do her best, bound so many of the other characters together. Add this to several plot points to capture your empathy and compassion, this is a quick, enjoyable read.
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Willowood, Kentucky 1965 – Robin Lee Carter sets a fire that kills her rapist, then disappears. She reinvents herself and is living a respectable life as Catherine Henry, married to a medical school dean in Tucson, Arizona. In 1985, when their 5-year-old son, Michael, is diagnosed with a chemotherapy-resistant leukemia, Catherine must return to Willowood, face her family and the 19-year-old son, a product of her rape, she gave up for adoption. She knows her return will lead to a murder charge, but Michael needs a bone marrow transplant. Will she find forgiveness, and is she willing to lose everything, including her life, to save her dying son?
About the author
Susan Clayton-Goldner was born in New Castle, Delaware and grew up with four brothers along the banks of the Delaware River. She is a graduate of the University of Arizona’s Creative Writing Program and has been writing most of her life. Her novels have been finalists for The Hemingway Award, the Heeken Foundation Fellowship, the Writers Foundation and the Publishing On-line Contest. Susan won the National Writers’ Association Novel Award twice for unpublished novels and her poetry was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.
Her work has appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies including Animals as Teachers and Healers, published by Ballantine Books, Our Mothers/Ourselves, by the Greenwood Publishing Group, The Hawaii Pacific Review-Best of a Decade, and New Millennium Writings. A collection of her poems, A Question of Mortality was released in 2014 by Wellstone Press. Prior to writing full time, Susan worked as the Director of Corporate Relations for University Medical Center in Tucson, Arizona.
Susan shares a life in Grants Pass, Oregon with her husband, Andreas, her fictional characters, and more books than one person could count.