When actress Rachel Goldberg shares her personal views on a local radio show, she becomes a target for online harassment. Things go too far when someone paints a swastika on her front door, not only terrifying her but also dredging up some painful childhood memories. Rachel escapes to her hometown of Carlsbad. To avoid upsetting her parents, she tells them she’s there to visit her Orthodox Jewish grandmother, even though that’s the last thing she wants to do. But trouble may have followed her.Stephen Drescher is home from Iraq, but his dishonorable discharge contaminates his transition back to civilian life. His old skinhead friends, the ones who urged him to enlist so he could learn to make better bombs, have disappeared, and he can’t even afford to adopt a dog. Thinking to reconnect with his childhood friend, he googles Rachel’s name and is stunned to see the comments on her Facebook page. He summons the courage to contact her, Rachel and Stephen, who have vastly different feelings about the games they played and what might come of their reunion, must come to terms with their pasts before they can work toward their futures.
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Shawne Steiger wrote her first story when she was seven. Over the years, she has been a pizza maker, dressage teacher, house cleaner, and therapist. The one constant in her life has been her writing, which is why, after years working as a trauma therapist, she applied to Vermont College of Fine Arts and completed an MFA in Fiction writing. After learning that she’s happiest when writing, Shawne published short stories and essays in several literary journals. Supporting her writing habit with her social work degree, Shawne frequently incorporates her understanding of how trauma affects people into her fiction. When not writing or working, she enjoys going to the theater, reading and travel. Luckily her love of travel stops her from fully realizing her aspirations to enter the realm of mad cat woman, since she’s yet to find the perfect suitcase that will fit both her cats and still be light enough to carry.
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My thoughts: this was an interesting exploration of hate, passed through the generations, and how it affects people’s thinking. Stephen is raised by his racist, neo-Nazi grandfather, but at the same time seeks affection from Rachel’s Jewish grandmother. But even the influence of Goldbergs doesn’t change the way he behaves and the people he associates with. Meanwhile Rachel’s religion is bringing unwanted attention to her door, as someone who doesn’t practise her childhood faith she struggles with this – does she want to identify as such when it draws negative reactions from some?
I didn’t feel that Stephen really learnt anything from reconnecting with Rachel and her family, while she decided to stand up and speak out. Considering that the world is how it is at the moment, this feels like a timely story.
*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.