Where mercy flows / Karen Harter.
Booklist Reviews 2006 February #1
Seven years after running away, 24-year-old Samantha Dodd returns to her small hometown in Washington with her 5-year-old mixed-race son, TJ, in tow. She is leery about the reaction of her stern father, who is a judge, to her single-mother status and her precarious health, but TJ proves to be the ideal icebreaker, anxious to examine his grandpa's complicated fishing gear and impressive worm farm. When Sam discovers the full extent of her health problems--she needs a heart transplant--she begins to compare herself to her perfect sister and wallow in regret over her past mistakes, including cheating on her husband with a Mexican horse breaker. However, her old childhood friend Donnie invades her life and her heart, convincing her to rally and fight for survival. First-novelist Harter finds intriguing ways to deepen her prodigal-daughter story, especially through Sam's heightened sense of place. But it's the familial relationships that drive the novel home and may make it a popular choice for reading groups (a guide is appended). ((Reviewed February 1, 2006)) Copyright 2006 Booklist Reviews.
PW Reviews 2005 November #4
Harter's redemption-filled debut charts the journey of prodigal daughter Samantha Dodd, a 24-year-old single mother who returns home to Stillaguamish Valley in rural Washington State after a seven-year estrangement from her family. Along with her beloved five-year-old son, TJ (the result of an affair and the reason her husband left her), Samantha arrives burdened with shame for her past sins--and afflicted by a debilitating illness. Unemployed, broke and without medical insurance, she must face her morally implacable father, a justice of the State Superior Court, whose approval has always seemed out of reach. Despite Samantha's fears, her homecoming leads to reconciliation with her nurturing mother, her "perfect" sister Lindsey (who gives voice to faith-filled messages) and her childhood friend Donnie Duncan, whose feelings for Samantha run deep. Samantha's relationship with her father, who makes the ultimate sacrifice for her, serves as the cornerstone of the novel. When Samantha's illness, a viral heart disease, becomes deadly and an anonymous stalker threatens her father, she triumphs over adversity to realize her potential for love and faith. Secular readers may find the story preachy, but the novel's traditional values will resonate with a Christian audience. (Mar. 21)[Page 22]. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.