Set against the backdrop of the Nebraska prairie, Joern’s powerful second offering follows three generations as they navigate the greater part of the 20th century. In 1930, Gramp comes to collect five-year-old Billy after his mother dies. This stoic beginning sets the tone for the rest of the novel as characters endure poverty, illness and betrayal. Subsequent generations share storytelling duties; there’s Jake, Gramp’s son, now a hardworking farmer with bottom teeth toppled together like gravestones in a country churchyard; Alice, his young wife who stands by him through endless hardship; and their children Stevie, Frank and Molly, all of whom leave rural life behind. Evocative prose elevates Joern’s excellent portrayal of the family’s evolution and brings a warmth and richness to a stark landscape.
Shuman’s provocative third thriller to feature blind psychic Sherry Moore (after Last Breath) puts a troubling, unsavory issue front and center. When Sherry uses her unusual giftâ€”the ability to see the final seconds of a dead person’s lifeâ€”to help save some stranded mountain climbers in Alaska’s Denali National Park, she gets an unexpected and horrific glimpse of the sexual slave trade. After learning more about the tortured women she sees in her vision, Sherry doesn’t hesitate to make a dangerous trip into the wilds of Haiti in search of justice. Sherry’s unique talent opens doors for her, but it’s her determination to live a full, active, useful life and her grit when things get rough that makes her such an appealing hero. Shuman puts a human face on the victims of human trafficking while painting a shameful picture of the failure of the world’s nations to address the problem.