He will change their lives forever. . . .
At fifteen, Natalie Ward believes her life is perfect. Growing up on a dairy farm in the mountains of British Columbia less than two miles from the American border, she knows little of the outside world. But she knows family. A family so close and loving that they are the envy of the nearby town of Atwood. Friends and neighbors, young and old alike, show up regularly on their farmhouse porch—all willing to share in the never-ending daily chores in exchange for a place at the Ward family table. Natalie cherishes her position as the only daughter of the beautiful Nettie Ward—the pride of the Catholic Ladies Auxiliary—and the town's milkman, Gus Ward—the darling of Atwood housewives. She adores her three brothers, especially the eldest, Boyer, whom she idolizes with a childlike worship. Like her mother, Natalie believes their lives are blessed, as rich and as sweet as the fresh milk that is their livelihood.
Everything changes one hot July afternoon in 1966 when a long-haired stranger walks up the winding dirt road to their door. The arrival of this soft-spoken American, a Vietnam War resister, will test the morals and beliefs of the Ward family and their close-knit community. The catastrophic events that are set in motion will leave relationships shattered and Natalie separated from the family she loves in ways that she could never have imagined.
Thirty-five years later, Natalie receives a late-night phone call from her now-estranged brother Boyer. Their mother is dying. Torn between the love of her mother and the fear of the past, Natalie returns to the town she has spent her entire adult life avoiding. As she travels back to her childhood home she steels herself against the bittersweet memories of that summer day in 1966 and the tragedy that followed. But before Natalie can find redemption, she must confront the secrets and horrors of a past she has desperately tried to forget.
- HarperCollins, October 2009
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