Flap copy from paperback:
One afternoon, single mother Sara Weston says she's going to the store- and never returns. In her absence, she leaves her teenaged son alone with his damaged past and a legacy of secrets.
Keith Weston nearly lost is life in an act of arson. He survived- but with devastating physical and emotional scars. Without his mother, he has no one to help him heal, no money, nothing to live for but the medications that numb his pain. Isolated and angry, his hatred has one tight focus: his half-sister Maggie Lockwood.
Nineteen-year-old Maggie spent a year in prison for the acts that led up to the fire. Now she's back home. But her release cannot free her from the burden of guilt she carries. She grew up with Keith, played with him as a child...and recently learned they share the same father.
Now the person Keith despises most is the closest thing he has to family- until Sara returns. If Sara returns...
Let me start by saying that I really enjoyed this book; Chamberlain is an excellent storyteller. That said, there were a lot of points during the novel when I found myself feeling a little lost, and it wasn't until I was finished with the book that I realized the first half of the story was told in Before the Storm. As I hadn't read the first book, I definitely felt at a disadvantage during some of the action.
This book is an unflinching look at the consequences from our actions however big or small. It is also a story of forgiveness and redemption as almost every character has something to atone for, something to be forgiven. Keith is catapulted into adulthood by the fire which almost claimed his life and by the sudden disappearance of his mother Sara. His half-sister Maggie (who started the fire that almost killed him) is wrestling with a community unwilling to forget and her own unwillingness to forgive.
The structure of the story that bounces between diary entries that explain the complicated history these two families share and their present-day attempts to navigate through that history to find truthful answers. I did think the ending was a little contrived, and that ending, combined with the need to read Before the Storm first, dropped this from 5 stars to 4. All in all, a great read, especially I imagine if read as intended as a sequel.