Review: 'Untethered' by Julie Lawson Timmer (2016)
Char Hawthorn, college professor, wife and stepmother to a spirited fifteen-year-old daughter, loves her family and the joyful rhythms of work and parenting. But when her husband dies in a car accident, the “step” in Char’s title suddenly matters a great deal. In the eyes of the law, all rights to daughter Allie belong to Lindy, Allie’s self-absorbed biological mother, who wants to girl to move to her home in California.
While Allie begins to struggle in school and tensions mount between her and Char, Allie’s connection to young Morgan, a ten-year-old-girl she tutors, seems to keep her grounded. But then Morgan, who was adopted out of foster care, suddenly disappears, and Char is left to wonder about a possible future without Allie and what to do about Morgan, a child caught up in a terrible crack in the system.
In 2014 I was introduced to author Julie Lawson Timmer when I was provided with a review copy of her novel ‘Five Days Left’ (click here to read my review). I was blown away by this intense and beautifully written novel and really curious to see what the author would treat us to next. A few months ago I was contacted about Julie’s latest release, ‘Untethered’, and immediately knew this was a review copy I couldn’t possibly say ‘no’ to. I was straight away intrigued by the description of the book and wondered whether it would be able to live up to my expectations after having enjoyed the author’s previous novel so much. I had a good feeling it would, though, and I’m glad to say I wasn’t wrong…!
Char Hawthorn loves her husband Bradley and the life they have built together as a family with his daughter, and her step-daughter, fifteen-year-old Allie. When Bradley completely unexpectedly dies in a car crush, both Char’s and Allie’s worlds are turned upside down. Not only will Char have to get used to life without her beloved husband, Allie could also disappear from her life because it is now Allie’s biological mother Lindy who gets to call the shots. Luckily Lindy appears to be quite occupied with her own busy life in California, but when Allie’s grief results in her acting out and behaving differently, Char notices the bond between her and Allie is suffering. The only thing that seems to be steady in Allie’s life is her tutor sessions with 10-year-old Morgan, but when something happens to also disturb that, both Allie and Char are suddenly confronted with even more challenges.
I love it whenever I stumble upon a read that completely grabs my attention and I can't help but keep on reading because I'm so curious to discover what will eventually happen to the characters. This was the case with Julie Lawson Timmer's novel 'Five Days Left' and also counts for her latest release 'Untethered', which is another intense and emotional tale I couldn't put down. The novel focuses mainly on Char and her teenage step-daughter Allie, who are both trying to move on after the unexpected passing of their husband/father. I liked both characters and really enjoyed how the author explored their feelings and relationship with each other. Julie Lawson Timmer's writing also suits this kind of novel perfectly; well-paced, gripping and chapters that were neither too long nor too short.
I usually always read the book blurb before I start a novel, but I somehow didn't this time. Looking back, I do agree with other reviewers that the blurb for this particular novel gives away a lot of information about the story. Yet, there is more than enough left to surprise readers, especially since the novel deals with more than just one topic (family, trust, grief). Because of this it would also make a great book club read since there is a lot to discuss and look at in closer detail. However, I do not only recommend this read to book clubs but also to individual readers, especially women's fiction fans; you don't want to miss out on this one. Overall, 'Untethered' is an incredibly gripping, emotional and simply wonderful read by author Julie Lawson Timmer; I loved it!