The Parrish and Collier families have long been connected by the bonds of love and friendship. Their stories and relationships are told in rich detail through two alternating timelines. The story begins in 1962 when Joanna Collier (who married into the Collier family) comes to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania with her family. As she spends time in the small town and gets to know the locals, she also gets to know more about her husband’s family, and their connections to the Parrish family. A mystery is uncovered in the local cemetery with a single, small headstone with the name “Baby Hayes” on it. Who was Baby Hayes? Why are there no other identifying details on the stone?
The alternating chapters begin in 1918 and make their way through the early 1920s. The reader meets the Parrish and Collier children and learns their depth of their loyalties to one another as well as their innermost thoughts and feelings. These relationships shape each of them from young ages and ultimately help to explain some of their adult behaviors and motivations.
This novel reads easily as the interesting family dynamics pull the reader in. The story is as much about the secrets we keep and the secrets that can destroy us as it is about the love and bonds between two families. No matter how deep a connection there is to someone else, honesty can be a tricky, multilayered thing, as evidenced by secret feelings and desires, the secrets others knew but did not share. How deep does loyalty run? And who is to decide those parameters?
Recommended for readers who enjoy family epics, particularly featuring small towns in eastern Pennsylvania.