William Morrow (HarperCollins)
September 17, 2013
TLC Book Tours
From the author of Things Remembered and The Year Everything Changed comes a moving novel about love that lasts forever
What's in the past is over and done with . . . or is it?
Sixteen years ago Carly Hargrove made a decision that would irrevocably alter her life. With little comprehension of the life-long consequences of her actions, she trades her own future happiness to protect the man she's loved since kindergarten, David Montgomery.
With an ocean separating them, Carly builds a life for herself without David. She's the mother of three, lives in a beautiful house, and is married to a man who comes home every night—even if most of those nights he drinks too much. What more could she want?
Her answer arrives on a cold fall day when David shows up at her door. In town for his father's funeral, he has come to see Carly one last time, hoping to rid himself of the anger that still consumes him.
Instead, he is drawn into a web of secrets that rekindles the fierce need he once felt to protect Carly. He becomes caught up in her life in a way he never could have imagined—a way that will bind him to her forever.
My introduction to Georgia Bockoven’s writing was with 2011′s The Year Everything Changed. I found myself wondering how I had never heard of her books before and why I couldn’t remember coming across them in bookstores both as a consumer and as an employee. It’s very possible I rang up one of her books for a customer at the register or that I straightened one of her titles on the shelves. I was only sorry it had taken so long for her books to be brought to my attention.
I did not even need to know what Carly’s Gift was about; as soon as I saw “Georgia Bockoven” I hastily said yes and waited impatiently for it to show up at my doorstep. The best way I know how to describe her books is to say that they tug at the heart in much the same way that Nicholas Sparks novels get to me every time. Carly’s Gift is not only a love story, but a representation of the bonds between mother and daughter and the sacrifices mothers make for the benefit of their children.
Carly is reunited with her first love, David Montgomery, a successful writer who returns to his hometown in search of answers—why did Carly give up on them? Why did she have to marry David’s best friend, Ethan? And is Carly even in love with Ethan, or does she still have unresolved feelings for David?
Although David certainly owes Carly nothing, he agrees to an impossible request: to allow Carly’s oldest child, sixteen-year-old Andrea, to believe that David is her biological father. Carly won’t give him any answers as to why, except to say that Andrea was the result of a rape. Still in love with Carly, David agrees to step in and be the father figure Andrea has never had in Ethan.
The mystery behind Andrea’s paternity is finally revealed, but the devastation it could cause for all whom Carly loves—and had thought were protected—could be the undoing of her entire family.
I became so caught up in the relationship between all of these characters. I had great empathy for David and Carly, who loved each other but had made vows and commitments to other people. I was all set to dislike David’s wife, Victoria, but by the end of the novel I had respect and compassion for her. I wish she had been in more scenes and that I’d been able to get inside of her head just a bit more. Right from the start, I thought Ethan was a horrible person. I couldn’t see how Carly could ever have felt anything for him, and even when all was revealed I still didn’t understand why she made so many of the decisions that she had made. Perhaps some flashbacks to their youth might have helped a little bit to persuade me he wasn’t that awful.
I nearly drove myself mad trying to figure out Andrea’s paternity. I thought I had it all figured out at one point, and believed it would explain why Carly had been so willing to let David leave Ohio without her. I’m still not sure how I feel about Andrea’s biological father—it was a little unsettling to me and brought up even more questions that I knew Bockoven couldn’t possibly answer with the number of pages I had left to read by that point.
Carly’s Gift was a fantastic read, despite taking me outside of my comfort zone. I was sobbing by the end of the story and wanted it to keep going. I’m going to miss Carly and David!