Can you ever really go home again and settle the issues from your past? Amy Sue Nathan brings us the story of one woman’s attempt as she navigates the ties between family, friends, love and grief.
Left to Chance
Two things will always be true: the people who’ve known you the longest are often most set in their expectations of how you should be, and grief will drive you in unexpected ways as it demands you succumb and deal with it. Such are lessons that Teddi is about to face head on. Six years ago her best friend since childhood, Celia, died, and Teddi, now bereft, sad, and without the other half to her every thought slipped away while the funeral was being celebrated. Now six years have passed: her career as a photographer has taken her to unexpected places, a ‘loosely’ open relationship, no home to call her own but a series of hotel suites permanently hers, as photographer to a national boutique hotel change. Renowned for her wedding photos, particularly a celebrity’s wedding that made headlines, she’s back in town at the behest of her friend’s daughter, 12 year old Shay, to photograph a wedding. Not just any wedding, Celia’s husband Miles is remarrying – and the whole small Ohio town of Chance is waiting for the celebration.
Where do you turn when every moment reminds you of the person, closer than a sister, that is no longer there? Teddi spent all of her childhood with Celia: they shared dreams and secets, laughter and even Celia’s younger brother. While everyone knows Teddi – they also all believe that she abandoned Miles, Beck and Shay when she ran away – and she’s never been strong enough to explain her reasons, or even actually deal with them. With friends reappearing and even insisting that she attempt to rejoin the life she had left behind, the contrasts between old and new, the changes in town and in her, and the slow-to-come realization that she’d been in a holding pattern since Celia’s death: afraid to commit, afraid to admit her own guilt and inability to explain that she never forgot – in fact a small bag of stones become a weight that drags her down, working as both a tether to her own feelings of rootlessness and a way to communicate moments to Celia – she slowly starts to engage as moments bring her answers, more questions and finally a sense of peace.
Nathan does portray the grief as Teddi’s determination to clutch it closely is often the first impression she gives. Her own reluctance to actually engage, using her camera as a wall from people and her emotions. Occasional repeated ‘lump in throat’ moments may feel like overkill at first, and the pockets and rock connection takes a bit to understand, but I did believe that the process as Teddi came to understand her grief and release some of the guilt as she honestly thought about Celia’s wishes for the people she cared for, brought a sense of reality to the story. Friend or family – everyone who is lost to us requires we find a way to deal with the pain, sorrow and loss eventually it just took Teddi a bit of time to get there. Sweet and complex, the story does unfold to encompass loss, love, friendship and expectations – and does show just how different ‘going home again’ can be with a change in outlook and expectation.
Title: Left to Chance
Author: Amy Sue Nathan
Genre: Contemporary Woman's Fiction, Family Saga, Small Town
Published by: St. Martin's Griffin
Published on: 21 November, 2017
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
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From the author of The Good Neighbor and The Glass Wives comes an enchanting story of returning home and discovering what truly matters after loss.
No one knows why Teddi Lerner left her hometown, but everyone knows why she’s back.
Twelve-year-old Shayna— talented, persistent, and adorable—persuaded "Aunt Tee" to return to Chance, Ohio, to photograph her father’s wedding. Even though it's been six years since Shay's mother, Celia, died, Teddi can hardly bear the thought of her best friend's husband marrying someone else. But Teddi’s bond with Shay is stronger than the hurt.
Teddi knows it’s time to face the consequences of her hasty retreat from family, friends, and, her old flame, but when she looks through her viewfinder, nothing in her small town looks the same. That’s when she truly sees the hurt she's caused and—maybe—how to fix it.
After the man she once loved accuses Teddi of forgetting Celia, Teddi finally admits why she ran away, and the guilt she’s carried with her. As Teddi relinquishes the distance that kept her safe, she’ll discover surprising truths about the people she left behind, and herself. And she'll finally see what she overlooked all along.
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.