Will Hatfield is returning to Dogwood intent on making his dreams a reality, after paying his debt to society with 12 years in Clarkston Prison. A house up the hill on his parents property and a life with Karin, the one love of his life. Will discovers many obstacles to the contented life he has spent his years in prison dreaming of. The people of Dogwood want him gone. To leave town or even dead would suit them just fine. The one or two people willing to give him a second chance are no match for the tide of opinion.
Karin has moved on with her life. Three children and married to the Pastor, she has settled for safe and faithful rather than a life driven by her youthful dreams and passions. Karin isolates herself in the life she has created, trying to escape the guilt that burdens her.
Ruthie Bowles is the one woman who can get to the truth of Karin’s burden and help her heal. The old wiry wizened woman sets off the healing Karin needs and is the one in whom Will confides his tragic secret.
What I thought:
Chris Fabry is a gifted wordsmith, penning this heart wrenching tale with great skill. He has a beautifully descriptive style with well developed characters and plot.
‘Dogwood’ is written in the first person, with one character per chapter. While I struggle to get my head around this format each time I encounter it, experience has taught me these novels are worthwhile persisting with. ‘Dogwood’ was certainly worth the perseverance that the early chapters required of me. Chris tackles issues such as second chances after prison, forgiveness and healing, wrapping them up within the tale of each character and making them tangible and real to the reader.
The issues and circumstances that Will faces are heartbreaking and tragic. His path is an uphill battle. And yet, he sets about reclaiming his life quietly, one step at a time. His determination and perspective is inspiring. He goes out of his way not to upset those who would see him shot dead in the blink of an eye, and yet the townsfolk are not content to let him be.
Karin’s story seems simple and straightforward but Chris has left the most revealing secrets until the very final pages of ‘Dogwood’. For Karin, nothing is as it seems. Her bland passionless existence is the clue I completely missed.
Chris Fabry’s debut into adult fiction deserves a place on every bookshelf.
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