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Somebody Else's Daughter

Elizabeth Brundages second novel, Somebody Elses Daughter, is a searing account of the power of love, the tragedy of loss and the sometimes harsh nature of coming of age. Centering on three families all living in a small town in the Berkshires, home to the Pioneer School, Brundage slowly unravels the lives of each individual within these families. Told from several of the characterss points of view, her exploration of how ones past bears heavily on the present produces a well rounded and entertaining psychological thriller. The novel begins with a letter from a father to his daughter written in the summer of 1989 on the day he is giving her up for adoption. The story then moves forward seventeen years to the present. The young girl, Willa, has been raised with great care by two very loving parents capable of providing for her in a way that her birth parents would not have been able to. Her adoptive parents have always been honest with her about how she came to them and have even offered to help her find her birth father when she gets older. The day Willa was adopted her birth mother passed away, which has also been disclosed to Willa. What they dont know is that the new writing teacher at Willas school, Nate, is her biological father. Though he has no intention of telling her who he is, hes returned to the Berkshires to be closer to her. His school friend, Maggie Heath, is married to the Dean of Pioneer School, Jack. Maggie and Jacks marriage appears to be idyllic, but her desire to keep this image is slowly tearing her apart. Nate befriends a single mother, Claire, who has recently returned to her hometown with her teenage son after the death of her own father. These peoples lives entwine as they gradually learn more about each other. They form relationships that they try to keep from their partners and deny the events of their pasts, which one by one begin to surface. The pace of the novel quickens as their lives become more entangled and all the secrets of their pasts are revealed. By showing the reader each character through several different points of view, Brundage is able to bring each to life in a multifaceted way. The reader knows not only what is going on inside each characters mind, but also how those around him or her see the person. Each narrator is fully fleshed out drawing the reader completely into his or her world and perspective. Though this perspective may not be agreeable, the reason behind each is understood. Brundage engages the power of secrecy to keep the reader turning the pages. The web that everybody creates in an effort to protect themselves as well as those they love is captivating. There is the knowledge that secrets can never be fully kept, especially from those we love, and the reader is on quite a rollercoaster until the surprising ending. The path of the novel itself is not truly revealed until the final pages. Somebody Elses Daughter is a thrilling look at what and whom we allow into our lives, how we deal with the things that happen to us, whether we overcome our pasts or are consumed by them and how we present ourselves to everyone around us. Brundages examination of the lives of individuals who attempt to escape their past may be brutally honest, or overly sensationalized, but is highly engaging.

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