I have nine years experience working with autistic children, most of whom were brilliant as is the little, blond Tommy in this story. The author did an exceptional job of writing an autistic child dealing with serious trauma – losing both parents when they were violently murdered.
The boy does not speak at the beginning of the story. Libby, a doctor who works with autistic children and who is the main character, knows Tommy can speak because she overhears him mimicking cartoon characters. This is very realistic and shows the author did her research. When Tommy repeats the words “tree-terty” he is telling the exact time that his parents died. I don’t know enough about this so I had questions here. 1. Did Tommy witness his parents’ deaths so that is the reason he knows the time? 2. How did his parents die. We know they were murdered but I don’t remember how, which makes talking about it awkward. The device of Tommy repeating the time whenever he missed his parents is well-written. This leads me to the end of the book where Tommy wakes JD with those words. Immediately JD announces that Tommy says it because the bad guys are here. That was a jolt. I would have assumed Tommy was having a bad dream and needed comfort.
I love the romance that was evident before even chapter two. It was well-written, subtle, not too on-the-nose. The sex scenes were well-done, not over done or too graphic. The psychic connection of the two characters was delicious. The author leaves the reader feeling very good about the future of these two. She actually didn’t need the last chapter. But it was sweet – so keep it!
I had a few pauses though, for instance in the scene where Libby and JD are up in the bunk above the cab. They left Tommy asleep on the pull-out bed/table. I was thinking the entire scene that they would look down and Tommy had opened the door and taken off across the campground. It would have added an entire scene of angst and fear for the reader. This seemed like a missed opportunity.
Because after all, there is suspense here as well. The suspense of escaping, being on the road, getting caught, escaping again, long road flight, who knows who the bad guys have “fixed” to help. The tiny scene where we discover who the bad guys have forced into helping them was well-done. However, I would have liked to have seen more of the bad guys making their evil plans throughout the novel. This would up the race against time more.
It was jarring to have JD’s family show up at the secluded cabin. I liked that it made for a touch of humor. But it seemed out of place. The solution is to take it more slowly perhaps have the reader witness the car driving up the mountain and having us believe it was the bad guys and – surprise! it is the hilarious Canadian brother-in-law and family. I loved him. He made an excellent foil to JD’s serious demeanor.
Action scenes: The two major fight scenes flash by too quickly. I barely had time to register that there was a fight scene. I never did figure out how JD got shot. The end fight scene is a blur. Being a visual learner, I couldn’t see it. I would suggest practicing the moves and rewriting it that way. We need to see each step every character takes and each shell casing land on the turf.
The author did an excellent job of creating characters that we really cared about from the beginning. I would recommend this to friends.