Do you love Meridian and the refreshing, inspiring stories and insights we bring you reach day? Now is our annual voluntary subscription drive. Please click here to donate to Meridian. Thank you for your generous support.
It’s almost Christmas, a time when thoughts turn to the Christ Child, to giving, and to families, but what if family, at least part of the family, is the enemy? What if those we should most depend on to love and protect us, only want to exploit and use us? In Shannon Guyman’s The Broken Road, Allison Vaughn faces just that problem.
Allison is the oldest of three children and legally an adult. She has formal custody of her teenage brother and sister. Their mother recently died in a car accident while running off with her boyfriend and her father is in prison for defrauding many people out of their life’s savings. Allison who was used by her father in his con schemes grew up with enormous wealth and a mother who put wealth and possessions above all else. Now she has little to live on and is anxious to disappear so that her father can’t find them and use her and the twins in more schemes. He’s about to be released from prison, so Allison takes her siblings to the one placed she feels certain her father will never look for them, the town where he destroyed so many lives.
Returning to the town where everyone knows about her father’s dishonesty and where many of the people were his victims isn’t easy. It is especially hard for the teenagers who must face a lot of taunting at high school. Allison also has difficulty facing her former friends and suspicious neighbors. Nevertheless, she is determined to find a job to supplement the small amount of insurance left to her by her mother. She even manages to hope when she discovers the attraction for a former classmate she felt, but was denied acting on in high school, is still very much alive and reciprocated.
All her careful efforts and hard work meet a brick wall when she discovers her father is out of prison and has stolen her brother’s social security number. With it, he has obtained multiple credit cards which he has maxed out.
Allison can’t sing the well known song, “I’m a Child of God,” without feeling sick. “Parents kind and dear” doesn’t fit her parents. Guyman explores somewhat the concerns of a child who can’t honor her parents and the dilemma faced by those who can’t trust a family member as well as the problems associated with a stolen ID. She also brings out the complications a person in such a position faces when people assume that a person is dishonest because their parents were dishonest.
Along with the other problems Allison must face are questions and excitement surrounding her sister’s teenage romance, her brother’s ambivalent feelings for his father, and her own growing feelings for a man she is attracted to but who was hurt by her father. After being let down by her parents, she has strong trust issues to deal with. Finding strength to move beyond the past is one of the strong, but subtle, messages found in the story.
The Broken Road is an enjoyable read with a nice romance and a believable social issue aspect. It is a little slow, but doesn’t drag. Some of the relationships in the story seem a bit exaggerated rather than realistic. I liked the characters and found the general theme original and timely. Women and teenage girls will enjoy this story and find it an engrossing way to spend a few holiday break hours.
This is Guyman’s eighth book. She and her husband live in Utah and are the parents of six children. She is also an outdoor enthusiast.
* * *
THE BROKEN ROAD by Shannon Guymon, published by Cedar Fort, softcover, 264 pages, $16.99