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The Reckoning

by Patricia Tyrrell

Imagine Mark Haddon meets Alice Sebold and you have Patricia Tyrrell's The Reckoning.In a phone booth beside a dusty Arizona highway, fifteen-year-old Cate listens in on yet another conversation between Les (the man who has raised her since she was a toddler) and her mother. But this is no ordinary chit chat, for the woman at the end of the line hasn't seen her daughter since she was three years old, and the man in the phone booth is the homeless drifter who abducted Cate from beside her sleeping parents over a decade ago.Now Les has finally determined that the time has come for Cate to go home.How will Cate cope with learning to love a mother she can't remember, and with learning to reject the father-figure she has loved for twelve years? How will her mother reconcile the memories of her three-year-old daughter with the hard-bitten, poorly educated and cynical teenager who turns up on her doorstep in Virginia? And what will happen to them both when the awful secret Cate is hiding is brought out into the open?Electrifying, brilliantly written and taut with suspense, The Reckoning is an intense and riveting meditation on the themes of loss and reunion, parents and children, and nature versus nurture.h. Cate must try to get beyond her resentment and learn what it means to have a mother, and to love her for that reason alone. Janice has to try to reconcile her memories of her sweet three-year-old with the reality of brash, difficult Cate. Complicating their uneasy relationship is the truth of Cate's crime, which prevents both women from getting too close. But when Cate's lies become unbearable, her mother determines that the facts must come out if there's to be any hope they'll truly accept one another. Together, they travel to the scene of the crime -- a small town in the western desert -- to confront the truth.The Reckoning is a powerful and almost gut-wrenching exploration of what it means to be mother and daughter when horrific events of the past threaten to destroy that tenuous bond. Patricia Tyrrell's use of Cate's first-person perspective allows her to bring the conflicting emotions of her characters to the forefront, and the intensity of her writing suffuses the novel with suspense. But it is the stunning premise of this story that has gained Tyrrell the most attention. Asked how she came up with the idea, the author has commented: "I had read a newspaper account of how an American woman was deceived by phone calls into believing that her kidnapped daughter was still alive, although in fact the child was killed soon after the abduction. I thought: What if the child were alive? What if the abductor was desperate to return her? Why would he want to take such a risk? And the idea of the girl who committed a murder then came to me." From there, Tyrrell drew on her experiences living in the United States to flesh out the narrative and created this dramatic meditation on the themes of loss and reunion, parents and children, and nature versus nurture.

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