In Leah's Wake

By Terri Giuliano Long
Publisher:CreateSpace, (10/1/2010)

Average Rating:
Very Unleashable
4.36 out of 5 (11 Clubie's ratings)

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If your book club would like to discuss In Leah's Wake with author Terri Giuliano Long via phone or skype please contact  to set up a date and time!!

The Tyler family had the perfect life - until sixteen-year-old Leah decided she didn't want to be perfect anymore.

While her parents fight to save their daughter from destroying her brilliant future, Leah's younger sister, Justine, must cope with the damage her out-of-control sibling leaves in her wake.

Will this family survive? What happens when love just isn't enough?

Jodi Picoult fans will love this beautifully written and absorbing novel.

Recipient of the Coffee Time Reviewer Recommend Award, in recognition of outstanding writing style.
A special UK edition of In Leah's Wake will be published by Inspired Quill Press in November 2011.

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Book Junky's thoughts on "In Leah's Wake"
updated on:1/30/2012

Ok, I was a "Justine." Because of this… this book was a little hard to read. (Though my situation was NO WHERE near as extreme, and I think I made wiser decisions.) On that note, the author does a great job of seeping into the thought patterns of all of the characters, and bringing the reader along for the ride. All flawed personalities, and yet highly relatable at the same time. Of course I did want to slap-upside-the-head EVERY character at some point. Seriously, "think!" But all the oh-too-human choices they made just added to the journey.

My only complaint - the ending. I would have liked to see more of the "after" part explored more… which I guess is good, because I wanted to stay with the characters longer. 

Overall, this is an EXCELLENT book for book clubs. Lots of talking points. "What would you do?" - "Can you relate to their actions & thoughts?" Those two questions along will give you hours of things to talk about. 

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Susan Salluce's thoughts on "In Leah's Wake"
updated on:1/16/2012

Fabulous family saga story, demonstrating the complexities of life during the teen years. A must have! Well done, Ms Long!


sueroebuck's thoughts on "In Leah's Wake"
updated on:10/27/2011


Steph's thoughts on "In Leah's Wake"
updated on:8/3/2011

This book is terrifying.  As a soon-to-be first time parent, this account of a family's unraveling became a cautionary tale of what not to do when your teenage daughter "mixes with the wrong crowd".  While it's easy to judge, the chorus of "not so fast" was running through my head because I can't say what I would do faced with the same or similar circumstances.  Since the story is told from the vantage of all the family members - the parents, Leah - the rebellious teen, Justine - the younger sister, and a police officer involved with the family, I felt fully immersed and even like a helpless bystander watching the personal plight of each person.  You don't need to be a parent or a member of a dysfunctional family to find the human universals within this novel.  There are lessons in coummunication, alienation, the pressures for success, mercy, and the interconnectedness of people.  I was surprised to learn that this was the author's first novel.  She handled some weighty topics without being heavy-handed affording the reader space to insert their own questions and inferences.

Very Unleashable

Reese's thoughts on "In Leah's Wake"
updated on:8/3/2011

An impressive debut novel by Terri Giuliano Long. A book about family dynamics, dysfunction and angst, while always a universally relatable theme can often be a big miss, but I was pleasantly captured by this book and the story of the Tyler family from the beginning.  The characters were easy to care about and that made their flaws and weaknesses easier to handle even when you wanted to strangle them.

The book was a good portrayal of the complicated nature of keeping the dynamics of a marriage alive while raising kids. Those very kids going through teenage angst and even more so...teenage rebellion that plays into every parents fear of drugs, parties and bad choices.  How do you deal with the complicated nature of love, responsibility, protection and letting go with your family?

A very good book for discussion with many topics that everyone can relate to and share.


Nick's thoughts on "In Leah's Wake"
updated on:8/1/2011

I'm sure just about anyone can relate to the issues at the heart of this story. Sometimes there are people that, no matter how much love, concern and opportunity they are given, seem intent on a path of self-destruction. "In Leah's Wake" does a good job of exploring this theme and giving us a window into the pain of parents watching a child slowly slip off the path. How much intervention is too much? Or too little? It is a tricky line. And so is telling a story like this. There are some very tense and touching moments, but the book does occasionally lean toward melodrama. I think the narration is at its best when it's in the mind of the parents, which strikes me as the perspective the author best understands. Jumping back and forth between the points of view of five different characters (Leah, Justine, Zoe, Will and the police officer) was a bit much. I think the story could have been a bit more focused if told from a more fixed perspective. All that said, it is an interesting and insightful read.

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Ceci's thoughts on "In Leah's Wake"
updated on:7/30/2011

A decent read about a decent family come undone. The instigating problem is a teenager's self-doubt, insecurity, and rebelliousness, and the very bad choices she makes as a result. This plot line, like most teenage drama, drags on, strays into melodrama, and eventually, it's just not that interesting. But one character, younger sister Justine, kept me turning the pages. Her own transition from baby of the family, to ignored adolescent, to the only true adult in the family is sweetly depicted and made my heart break for her.

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Sam's thoughts on "In Leah's Wake"
updated on:7/29/2011

On the surface, this book is a wonderful example of teenage angst and rebellion at its finest, and tween struggles of self discovery. But it does not stop there. It has characters portrayed in such way that you feel you not only know them, but in some ways are them. Each character is faced with their own obstacles and we are witnesses to not only their decisions, but their decision making process. The inner thoughts of all of the characters make you relate to their decision, even when you might not agree with them. The store lines: rebellious teen - tween torn with loyalties and "coolness" - mother & father trying to cope - mother battling her own demons and desires to emotionally flee - father temped, all lend themselves well to book club discussions. It is the underlying want of all of the characters to escape that really stood out to me as an interesting theme, and should lend itself to great discussions. Leah- into drugs and her boyfriend; Justine - to science, her friend's house and ultimately to "coolness"; Zoe - to painkillers and possibly another man; Will - to his work, anger, drinking, and possibly another woman; Jerry - to another life and wife… they all desire to escape, yet the bonds of family pull at them. It's an interesting dynamic that really pulls the book together for me.This book is a wonderful exploration of emotions that is sure to get any book club talking, sharing, crying and laughing. 

Very Unleashable

htratt's thoughts on "In Leah's Wake"
updated on:7/27/2011

What a surprise! 

I started this book, and then became addicted to finish it.  Now I am sad that I am done.

This isn't your typical book about the perfect family.  It was real, the characters seemed so realistic, you begin to care about them!

The ending was absolutely fantastic.  I can't wait to watch for other books from this author!!


Babsbookbistro's thoughts on "In Leah's Wake"
updated on:6/11/2011

I found it hard to believe this is Terri’s debut novel. Her writing is exceptional. The basis of the book, we all need to take care and be responsible of the ones we love.

The characters and the story keep the reader intrigued and not wanting to put the book down. Anyone parent can relate to the story especially if you have teenagers. They are just everyday people like the rest of us. A good way to show the choices we make have a domino effect on others.

You will not see what is coming towards the end which is fabulous. I would highly recommend this read. You will not be disappointed.


emlynchand's thoughts on "In Leah's Wake"
updated on:6/9/2011

Zoe and Will Tyler led the perfect life in suburbia—a beautiful home, established careers, two sweet and talented daughters.

Their eldest, Leah, was widely considered the best soccer player in the state of Massachusetts; she was right on track for receiving an Ivy league scholarship, and from there, no one had any doubt that she’d live the perfect, privileged life.

Their younger daughter Justine was far more responsible than seemed possible for her twelve years. An excellent student, she was set on becoming a doctor. As a devout Catholic, she turned to God to ameliorate the minor blips in her otherwise smooth existence.

Yes, Zoe and Will had done all right for themselves. With Leah nearing the end of her high school career and well-behaved Justine about to enter teen-dom, they were all-set to enjoy a peaceful life as soon-to-be empty nesters.

Then everything went wrong.

An unfortunate miscalculation pushes Will’s job into prolonged instability. But this goes almost unnoticed at the hands of a much bigger problem—Leah’s unforeseen and all-too sudden rebellion.

Leah falls in love with Todd, a drug-dealing high school dropout three years her senior. She pledges her devotion to him and envisions a life at his side. Todd introduces Leah to drugs, sex, and petty crime. At first, Leah is ambivalent about this new lifestyle; she wavers back and forth, weighing her commitment to her boyfriend against that of her commitment to the family.

When Leah breaks curfew one night, Will blows up at her and even threatens to kill her scumbag boyfriend. In her ongoing efforts to keep the peace, Zoe kindly points out that Leah could do better. Unfortunately, these attempts to help steer Leah back to the straight and narrow only push her further into the arms of Todd, and their differing strategies also cause a rift in the once happy marriage.

Every time Leah begins to doubt her future with Todd, one of her parents goes too far in their attempts to control her. Eventually, Leah’s ambivalence disappears all together.

Meanwhile, dutiful Justine just wants to be noticed by her sister, by her parents, by life itself. She follows Leah into deviant behavior of her own and even begins to question her commitment to academics and to God.

Will Justine follow in Leah’s wake? What will happen to Leah? Is she lost forever? Will Zoe and Todd’s marriage last? Is there any way for this story to end happily?

The five primary characters—Zoe, Will, Leah, Justine, and the fifth, Jerry, a local cop that will play an integral role in bringing the fragmented family back together—have distinct voices and world views. Their motivations are so believable and understandable that the reader may sometimes forget they only exist within the pages of a novel. Each feels like a person you may have once met and even loved. Together these characters usher the reader seamlessly through the harsh events that unfold within the novel. They make it move quickly; they make it enjoyable.

“In Leah’s Wake” is a story of the rationalization we make for others’ behavior as well as our own; it is about our responsibility toward those we love and about our interconnectedness with the world around us. Ultimately, this is a novel about family, duty, and growing up (even if you thought you had done that long ago).

With such thoughtful characterization and beautifully woven prose, the reader may find it difficult to believe that “In Leah’s Wake” is Terri Giuliano Long’s debut novel.


"In Leah's Wake"
By Terri Giuliano Long

Average Rating:
Very Unleashable
4.36 out of 5 (11 Clubie's ratings)

The Gentleman
The Gentleman
By Forrest Leo

 General reading guide discussion questions to be used with ANY book your book club or reading group might be discussing.
Multiple Points of View
“In Leah’s Wake” is told from the perspective of five characters—Zoe, Will, Leah, Justine, and Jerry. With whom did you identify the most? Which character did you have the most difficulty understanding? How do the multiple viewpoints weave together to form a cohesive story?

Fickle Minds
Leah often changes her mind. One moment she misses her family, the next she hates them. She alternately wants to marry Todd and to break up with him. Why is Leah so fickle? Is this common of teenagers, or something unique to (or excessive in) Leah? Did you ever find yourself wanting to yell at her through the pages—to warn her that she was making the wrong decision?

If Leah had remained on the soccer team could the events of the story been prevented? What about if she had remained friends with Cissy? Are there any other what-ifs that stand out to you?

How does Leah’s cutting her hair serve as a turning-point for her character? Which other changes to Leah’s appearance, thought process, and behavior redirect the story?

Give her space
The first time Leah runs away Zoe insists upon giving her space. Was this the right decision? Would you have reacted the same way had it been your child?

Justine's Destiny
In the end, Justine presents some worrying behavior. What causes her to unravel? Is it her desire for Leah to think she is cool? The impact of her sister’s abandonment? Having to act as the caregiver while both of her parents struggled with their own issues? Will Justine revert back to her old self, or is she destined to follow in Leah’s Wake?

Parenting Styles
Zoe and Will have very different ideas of what it means to be a good parent. Zoe wants to keep the peace, she wants to be liked. Will desires to keep his children safe, and to do this, he often responds in anger. Which parenting style did you identify with most? Would they have been more effective had they presented a united front? How does Leah drive a wedge between her parents?

Under Stress
Will’s job situation becomes uncertain during the course of the novel. How does this difficulty play into the plot? How does it affect his character? Would he have been more level-headed in dealing with Leah and Todd had he not been under this added stress?

Unravelling Zoe
In the beginning of the novel, Zoe is a strong and capable woman. She leads self improvement seminars and works as a therapist. As the story progresses, she slowly unravels finally developing an addition to Oxycotin. What drove her to this point? Do you believe she will be able to recover the life she lived before Leah’s rebellion?

What role does Jerry play in the story? How does he help bring the family back together? Does he truly love Zoe, or is he just overwhelmed by being a new father? Does Zoe love him back? Is she truthful with Will about not having an affair?

"Bad" People
Todd, Hope, and Lupo undeniably are negative influences on Leah, but at times the author discusses each of these characters with compassion and understanding. Were these three really “bad” people, or did they just come from bad circumstances? Did you find yourself going back and forth between distaste and affinity for these characters?

Significant Stormy
Discuss the significance of the bracelet Zoe buys for Leah, Stormy. Does the birthstone ring she presents to Leah at Christmas hold an added significance; what is it? Are there any other important symbols in the story? What about the rope swing? Justine’s science project? The strangled hamster? Zoe’s flashbacks of a young Leah?

The Soundtrack
Music plays a huge role in the story. From Zoe and Will’s affinity for older tunes (such as those by the Beatles, Tom Petty, and Van Morrison) to Leah’s obsession with Ani diFranco, and Justine’s attempts to understand rap. How did these musical allusions add to the plot and help us to better understand the characters?

Thematically, what struck you most about this novel? Did it lead you to contemplate any deeper questions about family, responsibility, and life?

Pushing the Kids
How much control should parents exert over a child's life? Do Zoe and Will push Leah too hard? Is it necessary for parents to push their children in order for them to succeed? How do Zoe and Will's actions protect and in what ways do they fail their children? Does their intervention help or does it backfire? How might Zoe and Will have better handled Leah's rebellion? How do micro-managed children fare later in life?

What might cause a seemingly "perfect" child to rebel? Is Leah's anxiety caused by her parents' expectations or is it genetic, part of her personality? Is there such a thing as a perfect child? If so, how would you define the perfect child?

Do zero-tolerance policies work? Why or Why not? Are they necessary? Should schools ban adolescents from activities that could keep them out of trouble? Did Coach Thomas respond properly to Leah's outburst? Should Will and Zoe have exercised greater tolerance? Or were they too lax?

You're Banned!
How do parents prevent children from falling under the influence of the wrong people? How might Zoe and Will have prevented Leah's relationship with Todd from getting serious? Should they have banned Todd from their home? Why or why not?

Nature or Nurture
Are a child's personality and conduct influenced primarily by nature? Nurture? Both? How are Justine and Leah's personalities a result of their parents' influence? Might parts of Justine and Leah's personalities be inherent? If so, which?

The Community
Hillary Clinton said it takes a community to raise a child. What role does a community play in the lives of its children? Is the community responsible for the actions of an ostracized child? Why or why not? How do gossip and judgment affect adolescents? Are the effects always negative?

Discussion Questions Provided By Novel Publicity
Clubie Submitted Discussion Questions
Have a good question? If your a clubie add one now.
For additional reader & editorial reviews, please visit Terri's website:

"In Leah's Wake is a beautifully written and absorbing novel."
-- Margot Livesey, Award-winning author of Banishing Verona

"Sometimes sad, sometimes scary, always tender."
-- Susan Straight, National Book Award Finalist, author of Take One Candle Light a Room

"Thoughtful characterization and beautifully woven prose."
-- Emlyn Chand, power blogger and freelance author

"In Leah's Wake is an irresistible read."
-- Holly Robinson, author of The Gerbil Farmer's Daughter: A Memoir

"No one reading this can remain untouched or unmoved."
--Susan Roebuck, author of Perfect Score-

"A book to read, share, then read again."
--Bri Clark, author of The Familial Witch-

"A good book should have plenty to teach you about life. A very good book will have plenty to teach you about writing. This is one of those rare books that manages to do both."
-Haley Stokes, Senior Editor at Arch Editing-

" Keeps the reader turning the pages... Worth every second spent reading."
-Courtney Conant, author of The Blood Moon of Winter

"Although it is fiction, this book can be a great reference for parenting teenagers."
-Monica Madsen, A Mother's Touch Bookshelf

Interview with the Author:

For book club discussion guide and links to additional author interviews, please visit Terri's website:

Q: How did you come up with the idea for "In Leah's Wake?" What was it that stuck with you so much that you just had to grow this idea into a novel?
A: Years ago, I wrote a series of feature articles about families with drug and alcohol-addicted teens. Their heartbreaking stories stayed with me. When I began In Leah's Wake, our daughters were teenagers. I knew, as a parent, the feeling of being frightened, concerned for your children's future, I observed the kids around us, and I remembered the families I'd met years before. While Leah goes to an extreme that, thank goodness, we never experienced, all of this played on my conscious and subconscious mind, so her rebellion was easy to imagine.
Q: How have your own experiences as a mother of four factored into the plotting and characterization of the novel? 
A:  Our daughters grew up in the same family, yet at times their perspectives are wildly divergent. Naturally, being older, my husband and I see and experience situations differently from any of our children. I tried to show this with the Tyler family by switching point of view, at times retelling and overlapping their stories. 
Q: What type of reader do you think will be the most drawn to this story? Did you have a target audience in mind while writing? 
A:  Men and women who are raising or have raised teenagers tell me the story hits home--not that their kids rebelled to an extreme, but that they've experienced the turbulence that occurs in most families during the teenage years. I think the novel also appeals to teens and young adults, who identify with Justine and Leah. And Jodi Picoult fans often tell me In Leah's Wake reminds them of her work. 
Q: Is there any of you in "Leah's Wake?" Which character did you identify with or admire the most? 
A:  Tough question! I love all the characters. And there is a part of me in all of them. It was Justine, though, who kept the book alive in my mind. I worked on this novel for years; whenever I'd think about letting go, moving on to something else, I'd see her image or hear her voice in my head, and feel compelled to keep going.
Q: The Tylers are a well-to-do and relatively happy family; their environment does not seem like a hotbed for teenage rebellion. Why did you choose this family as the setting for your story? 
A:  I don't see socioeconomics as a determining factor. Poor kids are more likely than the wealthy to be victimized by drug- or alcohol-related violence, so we hear their stories more often. That doesn't mean kids in well-to-do towns don't rebel. Kids drink, often in secret, and the current trend is to abuse prescription drugs. 
It's terrifying, I know, to watch kids get off track. Frankly, though, the young are supposed to rebel. The notion that kids ought to be perfect, clones--or worse--best friends of their parents is crippling to them. If kids are to become creative, independent adults, they have to set their own agenda, think for themselves, which often means breaking away from parental rules. I thought, and still think, zero tolerance polices are ridiculous. It's wrong to ostracize kids who rebel, and cowardly to shame them. Instead, communities should pull together, support and encourage all kids--that's one of the social issues I tried to address in my novel.  
Q: What is the take-away message of "In Leah's Wake?" How would you like the reader to feel upon exiting the world of the Tylers? 
A:  The epitaph, from The Grand Inquisitor, says it best"everyone is really responsible to all men for all men and for everything." The Tyler family is far from perfect, but they love one another. Our flaws make us human and that humanity connects us. I hope readers feel that sense of connection--and hope. 
Q: Looking at the bigger picture, what do you hope to bring to the literary world? How will your work have an impact? 
A:  While my stories differ--I'm currently working on a psychological thriller with a historical twist--they always tie back to the family, the ways we love, yet too often hurt one another, the grief, sorrow, revelation, the joy. I hope to entertain readers, while sharing a sense of lasting hope and deep emotional connection.
Q: What's next for Terri Giuliano Long? Do you have any other novels in the works? When will they be ready for the readers' enjoyment? 
A:  My new novel, Nowhere to Run, takes place in the White Mountains, in northern New Hampshire. A year after the brutal, unsolved murder of her six-year-old daughter, Abby Minot, once an award-winning writer, now on hiatus, accepts her first assignment--a profile of the philanthropic Chase family, kin of the popular New Hampshire senator and presidential hopeful, Matthias Chase. 
In her initial research, Abby glimpses darkness under the shiny veneer. Digging deeper, she uncovers a shocking web of lies and betrayal, dating back to the nineteenth century. Abby finds herself trapped--between an editor obsessed with uncovering the truth and the town and family who will stop at nothing to ensure it stays hidden. 
I hope to complete the novel this fall. 
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Justine strikes a pose before the full-length mirror hanging on her closet door. Chin up, hands by her sides. She draws a breath. “My dear. . .” she begins, and stops mid-sentence. Wrinkles her nose. She’s got it all wrong. She’s too—Too stiff. Too grownup. Too something.

She rakes her fingers over her short dark hair, sweeping the bangs out of her eyes, tugs at the hem of her pink baby-doll pajamas. She’s scheduled to deliver the candidates’ address at her Confirmation Mass this afternoon. When she learned, six months ago, that she had been selected speaker, Justine was ecstatic. Now, the very idea of standing in front of the whole congregation, telling hundreds, maybe thousands, of people how she’s learned from her own family what it means to be part of God’s larger family makes her sick to her stomach.

She has no choice. She made a commitment.

She folds her hands primly, setting them at chest height on her imaginary podium, glances at her cheat sheet, rolls her lower face into a smile, and begins again. “My fellow Confirmation candidates,” she says this time. Justine crumples the paper, tosses it onto her bed. My fellow Confirmation candidates. What a dork. She sounds about twenty, instead of thirteen.

She screws up her face. “I can’t do this,” she says, wagging a finger at the girl watching her from the mirror. She would feel like a hypocrite.

Justine plods to the bathroom, pees, pads back to her bedroom. The forecasters are predicting snow, starting later today. A dismal gray stratus hangs over her skylight. Her room is dark, the air raw. Her sister’s blue and gold Cortland High sweatshirt lies in a heap at the foot of her bed. Justine pulls the sweatshirt over her head, retrieves the balled-up paper. With the back of her hand, she flattens it out, and returns to the mirror to practice.

As always, on first glance, the girl in the mirror takes Justine by surprise. She’s grown two inches since Christmas, isn’t chubby anymore, her belly flat, the clavicle bones visible now at the base of her throat. She pushes her bangs out of her pale, darkly fringed eyes. With her fingertips, she touches her cheeks. Her features have matured, her nose long and straight, like her mother’s, her cheekbones defined. She curls and uncurls her toes. She wears a size six shoe, a size and a half smaller than Leah. Her toes are long and slim, the nails painted blue.

Justine crushes the sheet of paper, tosses it in the trash, strolls to her window, raises the honeycomb shade. Spring feels a long way away, the yard empty, the trees bare. A rush of cold air streams in, under the sash. The air smells of snow. Justine presses her hand against the cool glass, the way she and her sister used to do on the windshield of their father’s car, when they were small. Stop, their father would scold. You’re making a mess. She smiles, remembering how Leah loved egging him on. She pulls her hand away from the glass, watches her prints disappear.

Justine wishes, sometimes, that she could disappear, too. Poof, just like the handprint.

Poof, just like her sister.


Just Do It


Zoe and Will Tyler sat at the dining room table, playing poker. The table, a nineteenth-century, hand-carved mahogany, faced the bay window overlooking their sprawling front yard. Husband and wife sat facing one another, a bowl of Tostitos and a half-empty bottle of port positioned between them. Their favorite Van Morrison disc—Tupelo Honey—spun on the player in the family room, the music drifting out of speakers built into the dining room walls.

Dog, their old yellow Lab, lay on a ratty pink baby blanket, under the window.

Zoe plucked the Queen of Hearts from the outside of her hand, and tucked it center. She was holding a straight. If she laid it down, she would win the hand, third in a row, and her husband would quit. If she didn’t, she would be cheating herself.

The moon was full tonight, its light casting a ghostly shadow across the yard. The full moon made Zoe anxious. For one of her internships in grad school, she’d worked on the psych ward at City Hospital, in Boston. On nights when the moon was full, the floor erupted, the patients noisy, agitated. Zoe’s superiors had pooh-poohed the lunar effect, chalked it up to irrationality, superstition. But Zoe had witnessed the flaring tempers, seen the commotion with her own two eyes, and found the effect impossible to deny—and nearly all the nurses concurred.

“Full moon,” she said. “I hadn’t noticed. No wonder I had trouble sleeping last night.”

Will set his empty glass on the table. With his fingers, he drummed an impatient tattoo. “You planning to take your turn any time soon? Be nice if we ended this game before midnight.”

“For Pete’s sake, Will.” Her husband had the attention span of a titmouse. He reminded her of Mick, a six year-old ADD patient she counseled—sweet kid, when he wasn’t ransacking her office, tossing the sand out of the turtle-shaped box, tweaking her African violets.

“What’s so funny?” he asked, sulking.

She shook her head—nothing, Mick—and forced a straight face.

“You’re laughing at me.”

“Don’t be silly. Why would I be laughing at you?”

He peered at his reflection in the window. Smirking, he finger-combed his baby-fine hair, pale, graying at the temples, carving a mini-pyramid at his crown.

“Nice do. Could use a little more gel,” she said, feeling mean-spirited the instant the words slipped out of her mouth. The poor guy was exhausted. He’d spent the week in California, on business, had flown into Logan this morning, on the red-eye. Though he had yet to fill her in on the details, it was obvious to her that his trip had not gone well. “Sorry,” she said. “Just kidding.” She fanned out her cards, hesitated for an instant, and laid down the straight.

“Congratulations.” Scowling, he pushed away from the table. “You win again.”

“Way to go, grumpy. Quit.”

“I’m getting water,” he said, tamping his hair. “Want some?”

Dog lifted her head, her gaze following Will to the door, yawned, and settled back down.

Her husband stomped across the kitchen, his footfall moving in the direction of the family room. The music stopped abruptly, and the opening chords of a Robbie Robertson tune belted out of the speakers. Zoe loved Robbie Robertson, “Showdown at Big Sky” one of her favorite songs. That didn’t mean that the entire state of Massachusetts wanted to hear it.

“Will,” she said, gesturing from the kitchen. “Turn it down. You’ll wake Justine.”

She waited a few seconds, caught his eye, gestured again. The third time was the charm.

Exasperated, she returned to the dining room, bundled the cards, put them away in the sideboard, and gathered the dishes. The toilet flushed in the half-bath off the back hall. Seconds later, she heard her husband rattling around the kitchen, slamming the cabinet doors. Last spring, Will had won a major contract for his company, North American Construction. Since then, he’d been back and forth nonstop to the West Coast, spending two weeks a month in San Francisco, servicing the client. Zoe hadn’t minded his traveling, at first. Over the past two years, with the glut of office and manufacturing space in the northeast, construction starts had dropped, and his sales had taken a serious hit, his commissions steadily dwindling. To compensate, initially they’d relied on their savings. In January, they’d remortgaged the house. When the California job arose, Will had jumped on the opportunity. He had no choice, especially with Leah headed to college next year. But the situation, lately, was brutal. Will hated traveling, hated flying, hated living out of a suitcase. And he resented missing Leah’s soccer games. Last November, as a sophomore, their daughter had been named Player of the Year on the Boston Globe All-Scholastic team. A week later, in his year-end summary, the sports reporter from the Cortland Gazette had called Leah the “best soccer player in the state.” The head coaches from the top colleges in the area—Harvard, Dartmouth, Boston College, BU—had sent congratulatory letters, expressing their interest. Will wanted to be home to guide her, meet the prospective coaches, help her sort through her options. Zoe didn’t blame her husband a bit. But it didn’t seem to occur to Will that his traveling disrupted her life, too. Last year, she’d developed a motivational seminar, called “Success Skills for Women on the Move.” Now that the girls were practically grown, the workshops were her babies. The extra workload at home, added to the demands of her fulltime job at the counseling center, left her with no time for marketing or promotion, and the workshops had stagnated. Zoe understood her husband’s frustration. It irked her when he minimized hers.

Will appeared in the doorway, a few minutes later, empty-handed. Will was tall, a hair shy of six-one. He’d played football in college, and, at forty-five, still had the broad shoulders and narrow waist of an athlete. Amazing, really: after eighteen years of marriage, she still found him achingly sexy. Crow’s feet creased the corners of his intelligent blue eyes and fine lines etched his cheekbones, giving his boyish features a look of intensity and purpose, qualities Zoe had recognized from the start but that only now, as he was aging, showed on his face.

After work, he’d changed into a pair of stonewashed jeans and a gray sweatshirt, worn soft, the words “Harvard Soccer Camp” screened in maroon lettering across the chest. Absently, he pushed up his sleeves, and peered around the room as though looking for something. “Zoe—” Normally, he called her Honey or Zo.

“I put the cards away.” She thumbed the sideboard. “You quit, remember?”

“Do you have any idea what time it is?”

She glanced at the cuckoo clock on the far wall. “Ten past eleven. So?”

“Where’s Leah?”

At the football game, with Cissy. “They’ve been going every week. Did you forget?”

“She ought to be home by now.”

“She’s only ten minutes late.” Their daughter was a junior in high school. They’d agreed, before school started this year, to extend her weekend curfew to eleven. “She’ll be here soon.”

Will stalked to the window, grumbling. Dog rose, and pressed her nose to the glass.

Their driveway, half the length of a soccer field, sloped down from the cul-de-sac, arced around the lawn, and straightened, ending in a turnaround at the foot of their three-car garage. In summer, the oak and birch trees bordering the property obscured their view. Now that most of the leaves had fallen, the headlights were visible as vehicles entered the circle.

“She has a game in the morning.” Will stretched his neck . His upper back had been bothering him lately, residual pain from an old football injury he’d suffered in college.

Zoe came up behind him, pushing Dog’s blanket aside with her foot, and squeezed his shoulders. “You’re tight.”

He dropped his chin. “From sleeping on the plane. Got to get one of those donut pillows.”

“You know Leah. She has no sense of time. I’ll bet they stopped for something to eat.”

“I can’t see why Hillary won’t set a curfew. Every other coach has one.”

“Relax, Will. It’s not that late. You’re blowing this out of proportion. Don’t you think?”

A flash of headlights caught their attention. An SUV entered the cul-de-sac, rounded the circle, its lights sweeping over the drive and across their lawn, and headed down the street.

Bending, Will ruffled Dog’s ears. “Reardon’s coming tomorrow, specifically to watch her. She plays like crap when she’s tired.”

The Harvard coach. She should have known. “So she doesn’t go to Harvard,” she said, a tired remark, fully aware of the comeback her words would elicit, “she’ll go someplace else.”

“There is no place else.”

No place that would give her the opportunities, the connections… blah, blah, blah. They’d been over this a million times. If their daughter had the slightest aspiration of going to Harvard, Zoe would do everything in her power to support her. As far as she could tell, the name Harvard had never graced Leah’s wish-list. It was a moot point, anyway. For the last two terms, Leah’s grades had been dropping. If she did apply for admission, she would probably be denied.

“Reardon has pull,” he offered, a weak rebuttal in Zoe’s opinion. “He’s been talking to Hillary about her. She can’t afford to blow this opportunity.”

Opportunity? What opportunity? “Face it, Will. She doesn’t want to go to Harvard.”

“If she plays her cards right, she can probably get a boat.”

Zoe opened her mouth, ready to blast him. He’d received a full football scholarship from Penn State, and dropped out of college. Was that what he wanted? A college drop-out in a couple years? Noticing the purple rings under his eyes, she held back. “You’re exhausted.” His plane had barely touched ground at Logan Airport when he was ordered to NAC’s corporate office in Waltham, for a marketing meeting. He hadn’t had time to stop home to change his clothes, never mind take a short nap. “Why don’t you go to bed? I’ll wait up.”

The look he returned implied that she’d lost it. “You think I could sleep?”

“For all we know, they had a flat.”

“She would have called.”

“So call her.” Duh.

“I did. I got voice mail.”

Shoot. “You know Leah. Her battery probably died.” She was grasping at straws. Leah was sixteen years old. That phone was her lifeline. Still, it could be true. It was possible. Right?

Leah had totally lost track of time. She and Todd had been hanging out at the water tower for hours, perched on the hood of Todd’s Jeep, drinking Vodka and OJ, admiring the beautiful night. This place was perfect, the most perfect place in the universe, maybe. Big sky, lots of trees. From here, they could see the whole town, just about—the river, the railroad tracks. An orchard. In the valley, lights began to blink out. Leaning back on her elbows, she gazed up at the heavens. “Look,” she said, mesmerized by the inky black sky, the billions and billions of stars. “The Big Dipper.” As she stared into space, time fell away, the past merging seamlessly with the future, this moment, up here, with Todd, the only reality there ever was or ever could be.

Todd took her hand, drawing her close, so close she could smell the spicy deodorant under his armpits. Just being with Todd Corbett made her feel dizzy all over. Todd was, by far, the most beautiful boy she had ever laid eyes on. His hair was long on top, short on the sides. He had full lips, and the most fabulous blue eyes, like, like crystals or something. A Romanesque nose, the exact nose she’d once told Cissy she’d die for, only now that she’d seen it on Todd, she realized that that particular nose was meant for a boy. Best of all, he had this incredible aura, all purple and blue, like James Dean or Curt Cobain.

She curled her legs under her, laid her head on Todd’s chest.

They met at a party, the Friday before school started. Todd had been on tour for the past two years, working as a roadie for a heavy metal band called “Cobra.” Leah knew he was back—that was all anybody was talking about—had recognized him instantly, from all the descriptions.

She couldn’t believe her luck. Todd Corbett! And alone! She’d heard he was hot. He was even better looking in person. Looking back, she couldn’t believe she’d been so brazen. She left Cissy in the lurch, sashayed right over to him, took a seat beside him, on the living room floor.

The movie he was watching was stupid. People clopping across a field like zombies, their arms outstretched. They reminded her of herself and Justine when they were little, playing blind. Even the makeup looked phony.

“What are you watching?” she asked.

Night of the Living Dead. Flick’s a classic. Hey, haven’t I seen you someplace before?”

Maybe, though she couldn’t imagine where. Todd couldn’t possibly have remembered her from high school. She was only a freshman when he dropped out.

“Leah Tyler, right? You’re that soccer chick.”

 Apple iTunes

Terri Giuliano Long grew up in the company of stories both of her own making and as written by others. Books offer her a zest for life’s highs and comfort in its lows. She’s all-too-happy to share this love with others as a novelist and as a lecturer at Boston College.Her life outside of books is devoted to her family. In her spare time, she enjoys walking, traveling to far-flung places, and meeting interesting people. True to her Italian-American heritage, she’s an enthusiastic cook and she loves fine wine and good food. In an alternate reality, she could have been very happy as an international food writer.

Terri loves meeting and connecting with people who share her passions. Visit on or Facebook:

I enjoy connecting with readers and would love to visit your book club and participate in the conversation either via conference call or Skype. If you’re local, I may even be able to attend in person.

If you're interested, please contact my publicist Emlyn Chand for more information:

For a printable book club guide, which includes an overview of the novel, Q&A with the author, and thoughtful questions for discussion, please visit my site:

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Terri Guilano Long

10. Where did the inspiration for your book come from?
Years ago, I wrote a series of feature articles about families with drug and alcohol-addicted teens. The moms talked candidly about their children, their heartbreaking struggles. Those stories stayed with me...
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