The Many Lives of June Crandall.
Suzanne Whitfield Vince
9781499705317 $12.99 Print/$3.99 Kindle
Secrets can define a world. They can take over life and become its all-consuming purpose. And in the end they can even challenge every carefully-built perception of what life's all about. Such is the case in The Many Lives of June Crandall, which explores a life influenced by nothing but secrets.
Grace Adams has a history of neglect: she's been moved from many orphanages and foster homes and has never known a real home or security. Only in her dreams does she find a constant beacon in the form of one June Crandall, an enigmatic protector who follows her dream world through war and cultural challenges.
But who is June Crandall: could she be the birth mother Grace has never known? It seems possible; but when Grace's petition to open her birth records proves successful, she's in for a shock: June Crandall still seems to be only a figment of her imagination, as elusive as ever. It's time to set the past aside and move on.
Now an adult, Grace is an investigative journalist and is at a bookstore signing her first book (which revolves around the woman she's dreamt of all her life) when a stranger appears to offer clues about June Crandall's identity. Suddenly Grace is once again thrown into a search for the truth about her background: this one with more clues than she's had in the past.
From the start Grace is called upon to display courage: "... she would not run from this moment. This was her moment. A defining moment. One that would make her who she'd always wanted to be. A survivor. All she had to do was walk through the door and embrace it. But something held her back. Being a survivor carried with it certain expectations. Being a survivor meant that she could no longer cling to the past for protection. The walls she'd built to protect herself from all that had happened had served her. But she didn't need them anymore. Writing the book had changed her. Had lessened the emotional scars. Had, in a way, healed her."
Her lifelong goal has been to be reunited with her birth family--indeed, to form a relationship within some kind of supportive family hierarchy. Her book shares that story and, in so sharing, opens the door to adding to and explaining the events that stem from her heart's desire.
What she hopes will prove a web of closeness becomes, instead, a web of intrigue as Grace discovers some shocking truths about her background and those who hold murky identities and unrevealed motivations behind their actions.
The tone of The Many Lives of June Crandall straddles the line between a mystery and a romance novel--and that's just one of the devices that makes for a pick beyond the usual mystery genre read. It centers as much upon Grace's choices in building the kind of life she never had (but idealizes) as upon the mystery of her background: "She was beginning to wonder whether she was destined to spend her life alone ...She envied Valerie who, despite the fact that they'd shared the same miserable existence as children, was able to open her heart to love. She didn't want to be alone for the rest of her life, but when she thought about being with someone, she just...she still couldn't imagine it."
As her research into family reveals more clues about her past, Grace must reconcile elements affecting her present and future abilities to find, accept and give love; in the process discovering shocking facts about those who conspired to keep her from the only love she's felt in her life.
Even then, there's not a happy ending. Grace finds her perceptions of love and life challenged at every turn, and it's only by coming to terms with the past that she can make the kinds of changes that allow her to confront present illusions to gain the kinds of connections she's dreamed of all her life.
Themes of abandonment, reconciliation, and family ties lie at the heart of a novel also steeped in mystery and discovery. The Many Lives of June Crandall is a mystery, a romance, and a multi-faceted exploration of many lives--not only of the enigmatic June, but of Grace's legacy. It's entertaining, passionate, and thoroughly engrossing, and provides readers with a fine blend of entertainment and insights. In short, it provides everything one could hope for from a superior leisure read!