Monday, August 24, 2015

The Far End of Happy by Kathryn Craft

Release Date: May 5, 2015
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Author Website: 

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

With two young boys weighing on her mind, Ronnie Farnham fought to keep her marriage together despite how bad things continued to get. She reached her breaking point when his downward spiral began impacting the children, and forced her husband, Jeff, to pick a day to move out of the family home. Her anxiety grew as the day arrived. What she didn't expect was for Jeff to barricade himself inside their barn with a shotgun.

For 12 nerve-wracking hours the community of their small town waited for a resolution. The police secreted Ronnie, her two boys and her mother away as they surrounded the barn in order to talk Jeff from the barn without harming himself. As they waited, Jeff's mother arrived and joined the women in their vigil. Can the women come together as secrets unveil themselves? Will the police be able to bring Jeff out safely?

After reading the author's previous book, I was excited to receive an invitation to read this book through NetGalley. Events in the characters' lives took place within a twelve hour period of time, beginning with Ronnie waking and getting the kids ready for school until the final chapter. As each hour passed, the story became more complex and the characters delved deeper into their own fears and relationships. I found it very interesting when the pressure began to weigh heavily on each woman the longer the standoff continued. No matter the various differences, they were all mothers who had children that she wanted to protect from bad things the world would bring to their doorsteps.

Ronnie was the typical middle-aged woman who wanted nothing more than to be successful, married and to complete the picture with a few kids. She rediscovered a connection to Jeff when she went out on the town with her mother. Seeing an older man fall for a younger woman wasn't out of the ordinary, but the subtle ways Jeff would shift Ronnie into their own little world made the story more than an ordinary tale. The author made sure each of the characters were well-rounded and had their own set of flaws. These made them all easy to relate to - including Jeff. Not only did the author present how the characters viewed themselves, but as the story went along, each character was given a chance to know how others saw them as well.

The book opened with a typical setting and ordinary things to do. All that made the beginning chapter a little slow for me. However, the pace picked up by the next few chapters and kept steadily revealing things that hadn't been said for years. Hour by hour fears, feelings, and accusations created walls of anxiety and hurt between Ronnie, her mother and Jeff's mother. Even as their concern for Jeff and the two little ones swirled around them, they had to find a way through all the muck in order to come together. Now, what I didn't expect was the author shining such a light on Jeff's depression, how it drove him to do and say things that he might not have otherwise, and how easily he sunk to a point where there seemed to be only one way out of his particular situation.

Overall, the book quickly became one that I couldn't put down. The author didn't create a world for me to settle in while I read what the characters said or did. She used the world around us and slipped these characters inside everyday situations instead. After I finished reading the book, I discovered that portions of this book were inspired by the author's own real life experience with a standoff involving her husband at the time. It was no wonder that she could bring so many emotions and accusations to life. I have to admit that my own emotions got away from me a time or two (okay, many times). This book is on my to-buy list. If you're looking for an interesting examination of family dynamics or a peek into the darkness of depression, this book is one you need to consider.

The Far End of Happy by Kathryn Craft is currently available at several online retailers and local bookstores. It can be purchased in a variety of formats including paperback, audio-book and digital (Kindle) from the book's Amazon link below.
The Far End of Happy by Kathryn Craft

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