Author: Sara Zarr
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (Hachette Book Group)
As the pastor's daughter, Sam is expected to live up to certain expectations. But when her outward appearance is just a facade, hiding her family's secret, she finds it hard to keep up pretenses. When tragedy strikes the community, Sam's doubts and questions are brought to the forefront. In dealing with her family problems and the community's problem, Sam tries to find answers and meaning.
This is a really great book. The voice is fresh and honest, and I felt Sam's hurt and confusion on every page of the book. The plot is simple, without many twists and turns, leaving enough space and time to fully deal with the emotional and religious angles of the story - the main part of the book.
The one part I didn't like was how Sam's questions are resolved. Nothing happens to clear things up for her, she just suddenly begins to believe again after thinking a lot. In her words, "And then, something happens." After lying in bed and being surprised when her thoughts turn to prayer, she suddenly has clarity and believes that "By definition, a miracle doesn't make sense." I was a little disappointed by that. It's almost anticlimactic.
The story doesn't end there, however, and the ending is quite good. It's a little open-ended, which I like, since her family issues couldn't possibly be resolved within the space of one short book. But the tragedy in the community is over, her tragedy of faith is over, and she begins to get her life back on track.