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on August 25, 2006
I just finished this book and as heart wrenching as the story was, I was fascinated and could barely put it down. Katrina writing is superb, the characters so real, with emotions we all can relate to. The ending left me wanting more to follow up and see what direction Jordan took and how Danny made out in life. To me,feeling so much for the characters was the sign of an excellent writer, one in tune with real life.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon November 5, 2007
Sarah, a widow and mother of Nate, 17 and Danny, 11 runs a thriving catering business. She is also a master chef and maker of wedding cakes and is held in high esteem in her suburban Oakhaven Ohio community.

Her neighbor, Courtney, an obstetrician has extended friendship to Sarah during her bereavement. Courtney's son Jordan, also 11 is friends with Danny and is Danny's classmate. Courtney tells Sarah that she thinks Jordan has Asperger's Syndrome, the spectrum partner to autism as he is sorely lacking in social skills.

But does he have Asperger's? Or is Jordan's behavior reflective of external circumstances rather than internal ones? A rainy day encounter with Jordan washes away all illusions that Sarah once had about Courtney. Shivering and disoriented, Jordan stands outside his house, although school has already started. Sarah offers to drive him until she realizes he is in no condition to attend. After a traumatic suicide attempt on Jordan's part, Sarah rushes him to the local hospital where medical personnel discover that the boy has been sexually abused. Ironically, it is the same hospital where Courtney works and where Sarah's husband died some two years earlier.

Layers of boils get lanced as more ugly secrets erupt, dancing out like a parade of skeletons in a closet. Not only has Jordan been abused, but so have other children. Courtney's mask of respectability has been torn off, revealing a cracked, twisted gargoyle in its place. Instead of being loving neighbors and parents, Courtney and Mark have been running a child pornography ring. Jordan, severely traumatized has developed some incredible coping skills.

As more layers of deceit get peeled away, Sarah re-evaluates herself; her neighbors and her judgment. Nate steps up to the plate for Jordan by encouraging Sarah to take him in as a foster child. Once the bandages and red tape are cut away, the family can heal and bond. The Ladens are clearly Laden with love and step up to the plate for Jordan. I especially loved Nate. One part that made me smile was how Nate and Jordan really got into venting their anger at Jordan's parents, who were truly monstrous.

This is an excellent book, a genuine page turner. The garden theme/persistent images is very effective. I highly recommend this book, especially for its realistic and sensitive treatment of a very painful topic. Katrina Kittle is certainly an author to watch out for. This book is outstanding.
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on March 15, 2012
I really didn't know the subject of this book when I picked it up. Rarely have I seen such a sensitive, voir taboo subject handled with grace and a true understanding of the feelings involved for the whole community. The pharagraph will leave you haunted and filled with a bitter taste of 'how is that even possible' feeling.
A must read!
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on October 29, 2008
This was my first book written by Katrina Kittle. From the first chapter I was drawn in. The writing flows, the characters most human and the subject matter, though difficult, handled intelligently and compassionately. I was sorry when the book ended.
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The first half of this book is tense, depressing and at times repugnant, dealing with a group of parents who share their children sexually in upper middle class suburbia. Jordan, the tween who has been violated, raped by both his parents and their associated deviants for five years, is the focal character of the novel. Sarah is a close friend of Courtney, Jordan's incestuous mother. Each chapter of the book bears the title of a main character, in random order, relating events from his or her point of view; these are Sarah, her two sons, Nate and Danny, as well as the victimized Jordan. This is an effective process to provide emotional and psychological insight about present and past experiences for a number of characters.

The last half of the book provides some resolution of tension and a satisfactory solution, but it is a rough ride getting there. The author, Kittle, has captured the anguish and drama of people caught in situations not of their own making. She has been brave to confront such a taboo subject but in places I felt that the characters and events narrated were straining credibility. Moreover, I thought it was significant and rather sad that religious (or spiritual) moral codes, guilt, forgiveness and conflict resolutions were conspicuous by their absence. These are people whose appreciation of religion starts with exclamatory slurs and ends with the obligatory observation of traditions. Human existence can quickly become hollow in an environment ruled by ambition, status and raw sensuality. Perhaps that is the unstated tragedy lurking behind the plot for this somber tale. However, that having been said, this is a story of the triumph of loving and generous compassion offered unconditionally by Sarah and her sons for Jordan. Well done.
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on February 28, 2012
I have never left a comment on Amazon before, but feel compelled to comment on this book. This story is about a woman, Sarah, who is coping with the death of her husband while raising her two adolescent sons. Her neighbour and best friend turns out to be, along with her husband and their friends, child molesters who do unspeakable things to their young son while she unsuspectingly caters their 'parties'. Instead of incorporating the subject of child abuse and incest in a sensitive way, it bombards the reader with sickening details of child sex parties; details which unwittingly imprint themselves on even the most sophisticated reader. To make matters worse, the book cover in no way hints at the subject matter, which is frustrating for a reader looking for an interesting thriller and ends up with a disturbing story of incest that is thoughtlessly combined with cooking and romance. I can't recall the last time I was so put off by a work of fiction - I will not be passing this book on to friends or keeping it in my library.
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on March 2, 2012
The very graphic details were completely unnecessary and coupled with a lead character who was being courted by two "hunky" men she met because they were involved professionally in the case. When you delve into a topic like this, you need to handle it so carefully - not turn it into a romance/horror story peppered with recipes. Yuck.
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on May 2, 2011
One of the most heart wrenching books I have ever read - it is also very moving and full of love and compassion. You feel incredible sorrow for what a child has to suffer through and it just makes you aware of some of the dreadful things that go on in the world. The book is beautifully written making it easy to read and hard to put down. It is a book I will never forget.
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on July 12, 2012
This booked shocked the hell out of me. The details were disturbing and very sad, but I still couldnt put it down. I had no idea the story was going to take this kind of turn, so be prepared for details that will make you cringe. I still enjoyed this book, but I had no idea what I was in for.
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on November 3, 2011
I started reading this book on a sunday morning and all of you working mother's out there no the list of "to due's" sunday's bring! I thought I would read the first chapter and do the daily routine to follow! Well when my husband hollered to me at 4:00pm, "what did i think we'd like to do for supper?" I was on my last chapter and responded anything he'd like to order in!!! Jordan should remind us all to hold our sweet angels a little closer and that "the kindness of a stranger" can truly change the outcome of a child's life.
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