Thursday, September 10, 2009

Megan's Way

Megan’s Way
by Melissa Foster

(Outskirts Press / 1-432-74442-9 / 978-1-432-74442-7 / July 2009 / 304 pages / $14.95 / Amazon $13.45 / Kindle $5.99)

Reviewed by Donna Nordmark Aviles for PODBRAM

Megan Taylor is a single mom with a fourteen-year-old daughter, a tight knit circle of friends, a self-made career as a muralist, and terminal cancer. When Megan’s Way opens up, Megan’s cancer, which had been in remission, has returned with a vengeance. Although she has medication that may prolong the inevitable, she makes the difficult decision to forgo further treatment, effectively shortening her life and by extension she hopes, her daughter’s suffering.

Knowing that she will not be there for her daughter, Megan tries to gently push Olivia away in an effort to have her become more independent. Not knowing that her mother’s cancer has returned, Olivia feels confused and hurt by her mother’s actions. She becomes increasingly distant and withdrawn, eventually acting out in a dangerous way in a bid for her mom’s attention.

Megan’s best friend since childhood, Holly, is married to Jack who has also been in her inner circle of friends for years. Peter is the fourth friend in the group and he has been in and out of a relationship with his partner Cruz, unable to commit totally – perhaps because of his mother’s abandonment when he was just a child. All of these friends have a strong allegiance to one another and especially to Megan. They also all have some pretty intense secrets for a group of adults that are so connected.

In her debut novel, Melissa Foster weaves a tale of friendship and love intertwined with threads of heartache, deceit and missed opportunity. Her characters are complex and for the most part well developed although I did find some of their decisions and actions to be questionable.

Holly, for example, is defined in the beginning of the story by her longing for the child that she and Jack are unable to conceive. When her secret is revealed near the end of the book, however, her actions and negative feelings toward Megan are out of sync with the Holly that we’ve come to know.

Megan and Olivia have an unexplainable, almost spiritual connection that allows Megan to feel the same pain that Livi feels even as she feels it. This ability is witnessed by Megan’s friends on several occasions. For some readers that would be a hard pill to swallow in itself, but with the final reveal, it is thrown even further into question.

One of my favorite characters, and one that seems to have been overlooked by previous reviewers of Megan’s Way, was Jason. He is a young boy that Olivia befriends after Megan’s passing. Jason has lost his own parents in a tragic accident and his friendship and understanding are key elements in helping Olivia through the most difficult time in her young life.

Technically the book is well done with only a few, easy to overlook errors and a larger than normal font for an adult book. What I really find impressive is the author’s presence on the web and the exposure she has been able to garner for Megan’s Way after only a few short months in publication. Melissa Foster is clearly an author who entered the world of independent publishing with not only a vision for her book, but also a well thought out marketing plan.

Megan’s Way arrived in my mailbox with Melissa Foster’s business card that reads in part, “A mother’s journey, a daughter’s will to survive, and a circle of friends shrouded in secrets.” I was intrigued and dove right in hoping for a great read and I was not disappointed. Thank you, Melissa, for the opportunity to get to know Megan and the gang!

See Also: Melissa's Website
An Interview with Melissa Foster

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