Title: A Turn in the Road
Author: Debbie Macomber
Published: April 2011
Genre: Women’s Fiction
My Rating: 3/5
Laura Brannigan is in jail for a murder she insists she didn’t commit, but it isn’t until a past love shows up that she begins to hope to be acquitted. As Stuart begins the search for the true murderer, everyone is forced to remember their pasts, many of which have been kept secret for years.
Told through flashbacks, the reader is given a glimpse into the poverty, drugs and sex of the 70s and 80s; shown lives lived through lies and feelings that no one thinks they want to remember.
While there were a few aspects of this novel that I really didn’t like, I did find it an interesting read, though not one I couldn’t have lived without. The story is told in the present day when Laura has been in prison for two years and is broken up throughout with the story of her past, as well as some of the stories of Laura’s friends and family. The general gist of Laura is that when she left her family she fabricated a new story for herself – one which was built on lies; so invariably when she is arrested for her best friend’s murder, much of the truth (albeit a warped truth) comes out in the national papers, effecting everyone Laura has ever known.
I found it difficult to relate and empathise with the characters as, while much of the story is told in their viewpoints, it felt very dry and emotionless. In other words, this is a good example of telling and not showing, which for me prevented the book from being amazing which is a shame as the story and ideas within it are well thought out and thought-provoking. It was also unclear at points who was telling the story. It is in third person, but it is mentioned that Laura is writing down her past and I wasn’t sure whether the flashbacks were supposedly written by her, or simply the narrator explaining her past.
This story has a lot going on within its pages, and I admit that it is impossible to read it and not question who the real murderer is. However, I didn’t feel like I was reading a murder mystery, more that I was reading a depiction of life, as the story focuses mainly on the journey of Laura’s life rather than the investigation (although this was used very effectively in progressing the story).
Overall, I would recommend this book to someone who is looking for something a little different, and a little grittier than your average light read, though it still holds the feeling of a book meant to be an enjoyable and relaxing read. While there are a few shocking scenes (at least to some people) within its pages, they clearly haven’t been put there for the sole purpose of shocking the reader. This isn’t women’s fiction at its best and I personally feel that, while this book was enjoyable, it wouldn’t be high on my list of recommendations for anyone who appreciates good writing.