Judith D Collins
The Secrets of Lake Road
Publisher: St. Martin's Press/Thomas Dunne
Publication Date: 8/4/2015
My Rating: 4 Stars
A haunting story about the destructive power of secrets, this accomplished and gripping suspenseful women's fiction debut is perfect for fans of Lisa Scottoline and Heather Gudenkauf
Jo has been hiding the truth about her role in her high school boyfriend’s drowning for sixteen years. Every summer, she drops her children off with her mother at the lakeside community where she spent summers growing up, but cannot bear to stay herself; everything about the lake reminds her of the guilt she feels.
For her daughter Caroline, however, the lake is a precious world apart; its familiarity and sameness comforts her every year despite the changes in her life outside its bounds. At twelve years old and caught between childhood and adolescence, she longs to win her mother’s love and doesn’t understand why Jo keeps running away.
Then seven-year-old Sara Starr goes missing from the community beach. Rescue workers fail to uncover any sign of her—but instead dredge up the bones Jo hoped would never be discovered, shattering the quiet lakeside community’s tranquility. Caroline was one of the last people to see Sara alive on the beach, and feels responsible for her disappearance. She takes it upon herself to figure out what happened to the little girl. As Caroline searches for Sara, she uncovers the secrets her mother has been hiding, unraveling the very foundation of everything she knows about herself and her family.
Caroline’s coming-of-age story, mirrored with Jo’s troubled teenage past, makes for an enthralling read that is impossible to put down and hard to forget.
About the Author
Karen Katchur holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice from West Chester University and a Masters of Education degree in Health and Physical Education from East Stroudsburg University. She lives in Eastern Pennsylvania with her husband and two children. She enjoys running and tennis and playing with her flat coat retriever puppy, Tucker and her cat, Carly.
THE SECRETS OF LAKE ROAD, a complex, emotional, and haunting debut by Karen Katchur-- delves into the devastating secrets and lies of the past across generations-- Family secrets sizzle at the core of an unsolved mystery for a suspense-filled gripping tale of a long ago summer lake accident. Jo is now a grown woman, always running from something—a past which torments her. As a mother of two--teen Johnny, and twelve-year-old, inquisitive Caroline, a husband, Kevin who travels, and a strained relationship with her own mother. Every summer she drops the kids off with her mother at the lake cottage, but she never wants to stay. Too many bad memories and guilt. Why? However, this summer, her mom needs help, cleaning out some old junk, so she finds herself pressured and closed in, and drowning in her own guilt, from a mysterious event from years ago—a summer at the lake when she was a teen, which changed the course of her life. Her daughter, Caroline does not understand her mother’s eccentric ways and her coldness towards her. She wants nothing more than her mother’s love; however, she feels she never lives up. She loves her Gram; however, she also is not very forthcoming with answers regarding Jo. Caroline was so excited to be at the lake and the upcoming adventures, until a little girl’s disappearance turns her world upside down. There was a mysterious drowning years ago, of a boy named Billy, when her mom was a teen. Now there is another little girl, Sara who has gone missing. Caroline feels responsible as she was just talking to the little girl when the girl’s mother seemed distracted. Caroline seems to have the weight of the world on her shoulders worrying about the events unfolding on Lake Road. She has to help find this little girl. What was supposed to be a happy memorable summer, has turned into a nightmare. Now the secrets of the past, surface—two teen boys in love with the same girl, so long ago. A horrible drowning. What really happened all those summers ago on the lake? Who was to blame for Billy’s death and his drowning years ago? Was there a witness who surfaces, connecting the storylines? Will reopening the investigation dredge up hidden past sins? A riveting, part coming-of-age and family drama, Katchur keeps the reader in suspense of the mysterious events of years past, and how one summer, changed the lives of three teens, and all those close to them. Jo is not a likable character, and not a warm and caring mother. The relationship between Jo and Caroline are strained, as well as the relationship between Jo and her own mother. However, you will fall in love with Caroline! In the theme of Diane Chamberlain’s The Bay at Midnight (loved this older but goodie), Jo must gather the courage to revisit her past and untangle the complex emotions that led to one unspeakable act on Lake Road. Through multiple points of view, Katchur skillfully explores the painful memories of the tragedy—crimes of the heart and those they try to protect. Will the sins of the past, threaten to destroy their present family? A story of loss and love and the powerful bond of family. An enticing mystery of the destructive power of secrets. Love the front cover, drawing you in. Highly recommend. Looking forward to more from this talented author!
A special thank you to St. Martin's Press/Thomas Dunne and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.