Rescue by Anita Shreve
Little, Brown; 2010. ISBN: 9781408700747.
(Age 13+) Peter Webster grows up in a small town in Vermont, USA. He becomes an EMT (paramedic) and dreams of building a house on a nearby ridge with panoramic views. However at 21 years of age he finds himself married to Shelia Arsenault and living in a one bedroom apartment above an ice cream shop after an unplanned pregnancy and the resultant birth of his daughter Rowan.
Initially married life is rosy for Webster but then Sheila starts drinking heavily, saying that 'I feel like a trapped lunatic.' Then a drunken Sheila is involved in a road accident in which infant Rowan is thrown through the car window in the baby seat and another car driver is badly injured. Sheila faces a jail term but flees interstate leaving Webster to bring up Rowan alone.
The book fast forwards eighteen years. Webster is worried by Rowan's change of behavior as she suddenly experiments with drinking and lets her grades slip. He searches for Sheila on the internet and tracks her down in Massachusetts and visits to ask her to come and meet her daughter, hoping that may help the situation. Shelia, who has been sober for years, refuses saying: 'I severed the mother-daughter tie the minute I got in the car drunk with Rowan in the back.'
At home the alienation between father and daughter gets worse when Rowan sees Webster reading her diary that he has accidentally found. The night of the graduation prom Rowan and a friend jump off a quarry ledge and hit their heads on rocks underneath the water. Rowan survives but in a coma.
This book asks the question 'is love worth saving - no matter the cost?'It examines the forces that stretch human relationships and of forgiveness. It also supports the notion that friends look after each other. I found it a good read after a slow start. Would be suitable for readers 13 years plus.