Sunday, January 30, 2011

A Watershed Year-Susan Schoenberger

A Watershed Year
Susan Schoenberger
Guideposts, Mar 1 2011, $14.99
ISBN: 9780824948566

Lucy is stunned when her best friend thirty-three year old Harlan dies from cancer even knowing he would die soon. She thinks he will come out of his bedroom any moment to greet her as thirty-three years olds do not die from cancer. She struggles to move on but cannot accept his death especially when he seemed to get better but abruptly ended his experimental treatments in spite of her begging him not to quit. Her biggest regret was never telling him she loved him.

E-mails from Harlan that he arranged to be sent after he died begins to encourage Lucy; especially the one in which he insists she is perfect to raise a child. She ponders motherhood and decides out of homage to her cherished best friend to adopt. Lucy travels to Russia where she meets equally lonely physically and emotionally scarred four years old Mat. She adopts him and brings him back to America. Although he initially is extremely reticent and frightened, Mat and Lucy slowly form a caring bond as each heals emotionally due to the loving codependence on each other that they forge. However, Mat’s father Vasily arrives from Russia to bring his son home.

A Watershed Year is a warm inspirational character study in which the key players (including Harlan through his e-mails, a tape, and his beloved’s memories) seem real. Lucy is a terrific protagonist who holds the entertaining enlightening story line together as she grows from dependency on Harlan (even after he died) to a mothering dependency on Mat to finally becoming a mother when Vasily arrives. With a strong support cast, readers will appreciate this profound look at the convolution and metamorphosis of relationships.

Harriet Klausner

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