What if you could go back and check in on a decision you made to see if it was the right one?
That's the heart of Somebody Else's Daughter by Elizabeth Brundage, a novel that explores one man's desire to make sure that the choice he made to give his daughter up for adoption 17 years ago was indeed the best decision.
In 1998, after their daughter's birth, Nate and Cat drive from San Francisco to Massachusetts to give their daughter a better life. Suffering from AIDS, Cat dies in the driveway just after handing Willa over to a wealthy couple sure to raise her in better conditions.
Years later, having turned his life around, Nate decides to take a teaching job at the very school his daughter attends, hoping just for an anonymous glimpse to reaffirm his decision to place her in more capable hands.
The Berkshires is a haven for new lives and for burying secrets. Willa's adoptive parents, the wealthy Goldings, have a fortune built on a secret profession. The school's headmaster, Jack Heath, is also there under a cloud of a hidden and dangerous past. Rounding out the main players is Claire Squire, an artist who has come home to inherit her father's estate, starting over for herself and her teenage son.
As the characters' lives come together in this small town, the novel builds to an anxious ending, as all of the secrets are revealed, some with positive outcomes and others disastrous.
Brundage is a skilled storyteller, and she weaves the players together in a breathtaking manner, forming an intersection of characters that points certainly toward a dramatic conclusion.
I read this book in one sitting, ignoring pretty much everything around me and holding my place in the book when I needed to take my breath for one minute before continuing on.