Saturday, February 29, 2020

Books: "In An Instant" by Suzanne Redfearn

In An Instant
By Suzanne Redfearn
Lake Union Publishing; paperback, $14.95; audiobook, $14.99; eBook, $3.99; available Sunday, March 1

Suzanne Redfearn is the award-winning author of Hush Little Baby and No Ordinary Life. In addition to writing, she works as an architect and co-owns two restaurants with her husband. She has been elected as the Literary Laureate of Laguna Beach, helping enrich the city's literary community.

The new novel from Redfearn is In An Instant, which cleverly examines the ways in which people react when faced with tragedy. 

Sixteen-year-old Finn is just your average teenager. With her loyal best friend Mo by her side, she navigates life's normal ups and downs, discussing her loving but dysfunctional family, helping plan her sister's wedding, and cultivating a budding romance with the new guy at school. 

Nothing will ever be the same for Finn when her family's vacation goes horribly wrong. 

It was supposed to be a fun weekend away - a means of mending the familial tensions that had been simmering beneath the surface for some time now. Excited and only a little bit apprehensive, the group squeeze into the cold campervan: Finn, Mo, her dad Jack, mom Ann, intellectually disabled brother Oz, sister Chloe, and her boyfriend Vance, as well as family friends Karen and Bob, and their daughter Natalie.

Driving along the winding road as the night grows darker, snow begins to fall, and just like that, everything changes in an instant.

When a deer appears in the middle of the road, Jack swerves to narrowly miss the animal, and the van slips on the ice, plummeting over the side of a cliff. Finn is killed instantly, but her spirit remains, and she finds herself stuck in the realm between life and death. Unable to help, she watches on as her family struggles to face the reality of the situation.

Some are injured more badly than others, and the group debates whether to stay in the van or battle the blizzard now raging outside in the hope of finding help. In the hours after the accident, each of the survivors must choose if they will step up as the hero, or prioritize their own survival above all else. In their desperation, allegiances are formed, and once-secure relationships are destroyed.

For those who make it out alive, it won't be an easy return to normalcy. In the aftermath of the accident, Finn sees the survivors grappling with the repercussions of their actions, tormented by sorrow and regret.

Among them, Jack seeks revenge against the one person he can blame, Mo embarks on a quest for answers, and Chloe finds herself wishing for the ease of death. Will they find the closure they so badly need, and finally make peace with what happened that night in the snow?

From its heart-pumping start to its tender conclusion, In An Instant serves as a poignant reminder of how life can change in the blink of an eye, exploring the impossible decisions that have to be made when disaster strikes and the unimaginable task of starting over.

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