Thursday, August 25, 2016

Shadow Days (Cedar Hollow #4) - Melinda Clayton


Shadow Days was a tough, but ultimately cathartic, read for me.

The main character is Emily Holt, a widow living in Florida whose sons are away at college. On the anniversary of her husband's death, Emily gives into an impulse to flee. She gets in her car and drives away, wandering aimlessly, until her car breaks down on a winding mountain road. The sheriff's deputy who picks her up takes her to the nearest town -- which happens to be Cedar Hollow. There, Emily begins to find her way out of her complicated emotions, and she also finds a way to tell her sons the truth about their father's illness.

Clayton has created a realistic portrait of a woman with a loved one who's suffering from mental illness. Emily's husband, Greg, was manic-depressive, and she spent the vast majority of her marriage covering for him in one way or another: finding him work, dealing with his behavior and his medical needs, and raising their children pretty much by herself. To compound matters, she strove to shield the boys from all knowledge of Greg's illness.

Without going into detail, I'll just say that I identified with Emily in a lot of ways. I was in tears more than once. And I was heartened that Emily's story might eventually have a happy ending.

Shadow Days is available both on its own, and as part of Clayton's Cedar Hollow omnibus. All four novels are highly recommended, but I think this one might be my favorite.