Mitchard’s emotional yet precise writing sets readers firmly in the story, amid the Wisconsin weather and the characters, from Thea’s calm football coach husband to her not-so-sympathetic colleagues at the university where she teaches ... An engaging journey through redemption, forgiveness, and a mother’s devotion.
Mitchard seizes upon a timely and sensitive topic in her latest outing ... Readers seeking a truly conflicted, thought-provoking exploration of penance and attempts at redemption might have to look elsewhere. Mitchard devotes more time to the mystery of Esme and Thea’s over-protectiveness of her son than she does to exploring guilt and punishment, but this is a compassionate tale with a gripping, ripped-from-the-headlines premise.
... disappointing ... begins with an irresistible dilemma and morphs into a long-winded, unconvincing melodrama ... Mitchard sensitively details Stefan’s painful reintroduction to society, the horrified response of the liberal community to Stefan’s attempts at rehabilitation, and Thea’s attempts to reconcile her love for her son with his crime. But Mitchard swerves disarmingly from psychological study to would-be thriller, as Thea receives mysterious calls from a young woman who says she knows what actually happened on the day of the killing, and starts to notice the presence of an unsettling hooded figure. Readers will likely figure out what’s going on long before Thea does, and the plot undercuts any emotional or ethical tension the book might have had. Those hoping for an exploration of the conflict between maternal love and moral responsibility will be frustrated.