"Heart-Wrenching" - BLIND TURN by Cara Sue Achterberg - Excerpt
"When the unthinkable happens, mother and daughter are forced to look deep within themselves for the truth. Achterberg takes you for a ride that you won’t forget. I loved this book."
—Barbara Conrey Author of Nowhere Near Goodbye
An examination of forgiveness in the aftermath of a fatal texting and driving accident.
Liz Johnson single-handedly raised an exemplary daughter—honor student, track star, and all-around good kid—despite the disapproval of her father and her small town. How could that same teenager be responsible for the death of the high school’s beloved football coach? This is Texas, where high school football ranks right up there with God, so while the legal battle wages, the public deals its own verdict.
Desperate for help, Liz turns to a lawyer whose affection she long ago rejected and attempts to play nice with her ex-husband, while her daughter struggles with guilt and her own demons as she faces the consequences of an accident she doesn’t remember.
Can one careless decision alter a lifetime? A tragic, emotional, ultimately uplifting story, BLIND TURN could be anyone’s story.
In the author's words . . .
Writing Blind Turn allowed me to explore how life could spin in a completely different direction as a result of one tiny action, something that seems like nothing at the time. It was a chance to write through some of my greatest fears as a mom and to ponder the weight of forgiveness, and whether one bad decision invalidates a good life.
Enjoy an Excerpt from
“You need to take this.” Avery shoves my cell phone at me. “I’ll deal with the party.”
“Who is it?”
I glance at my watch. Eleven-thirty. I rarely work on Sundays, but it is Edna Mae’s 100th birthday and her entire family is here for a birthday brunch, as well as a reporter from the paper. She probably doesn’t even know the party is for her, but I wanted to be on hand to be sure it went okay. Her great-grandchildren have just blown out her candles and a cheer goes up.
“He kept calling,” Avery says. “He says it’s an emergency.”
The residents break out with an enthusiastic but out of tune rendition of For She’s a Jolly Good Fellow. Their time-worn voices always center my heart, reminding me that life wasn’t always so complicated and on-demand. One time when my daughter Jess was maybe eight, she heard them singing and asked, “Don’t they know she’s not a fellow?”
I take the phone and slip into the hallway, pulling the door closed behind me. The call is from Jake, my ex-husband. I have not talked to him in weeks; parenting is mostly a side gig for him, something he squeezes in between fishing season and the latest bimbo.
“What do you need, Jake? I’m busy.” I glance back through the narrow window in the door to watch Avery lean down and kiss Edna Mae on her crinkly cheek, leaving a faint red trace. Edna Mae smiles, pats her arm.
It is the sound of his voice that frightens me. Instead of the cocky boy-man he has become, I hear a scared kid, the one who proposed to me because he didn’t know better.
“She’s been in an accident,” he says. “It’s bad.”
I hurl questions at him as I sprint to my desk, grab my purse, and run for my car. “Is she okay? Where is she? What happened? Why didn’t you call me sooner?”
“I’m calling you now. She’s at Memorial. They’re checking her; they said the injuries aren’t life-threatening…”
The phone goes quiet and I think it has cut him off, but then I hear him talking to someone, muffled voices, Jess’ name.
“Jake?” I shriek as I open my car door.
“She hit someone,” he whispers. He says nothing more. I wait for him to explain, but all I hear is the buzz of a hospital corridor. He takes a breath, and I can hear it catch on the inhale. Is he crying? He exhales loudly, slowly.
“She hit someone? What do you mean? With her car?”
I have always operated at a much higher speed than Jake Johnson. He’s a good old boy from Texas, a guy used to taking his time, never in a rush to say anything he doesn’t need to say. As he has done for the better part of twenty years, he ignores my questions.
“Lizzie,” he says now, clearly, calmly. “It’s real bad.”
“I thought you said her injuries weren’t life-threatening?”
“It’s not her, it’s the guy she hit—he’s dead.”
“What?” My world teeters sideways. Skidding to a stop. For a moment, just a moment, I thank God it was someone else and not Jess. And then I dig in my purse for my keys, toss out receipts, mints, and earbuds, leaving them where they scatter on the pavement. Finally, my keys.
“She was taking Sheila home,” Jake says, as I slam the door behind me and crank the engine.
“She hit some guy on Elm.”
“I don’t understand! You’re not making any sense!” I scream as I back blindly out of my spot, slamming on the brakes when a nurse jumps out of my path. I wave an apology, and she scowls. I take a breath. “I don’t understand,” I say again, calmer now as I carefully back out of my space. “Is Sheila okay?”
“I think so, nobody said. The guy was walking on the side of the road.”
“Then how did she hit him? That makes no sense,” I insist. I wonder if Jake got all the details or if he was only half-ass listening, as usual.
“That’s all I know, I just got here. I’ll call you when I know more.”
“I’ll be there in ten minutes.”
The yellow light turns to red as I press the pedal to the floor, my dragging tailpipe banging through the dip in the intersection. The entire way to the hospital, I chant, “No, no, no, no,” as if I can change whatever has already happened.
Excerpt © Cara Sue Achterberg. Shared with permission.
Cara Sue Achterberg is the author of four novels, two memoirs, one work of non-fiction, and multiple blogs. She is the cofounder of Who Will Let the Dogs Out, a nonprofit initiative to raise awareness and resources for shelter dogs. Cara currently lives in New Freedom, Pennsylvania, and Bentonville, Virginia with her husband and far too many animals. For more information visit CaraWrites.com.
Genre: Women's Fiction
Publisher: Black Rose Writing
Release Date: January 7, 2021
Content Rating: 3 Hearts / PG
"From its life-shattering opening on, pages will seemingly turn themselves as you seek resolution for this novel’s imperfect yet courageous characters, and for one eye-opening reason: these events could have happened to any of us. An important story about how taking responsibility for our actions—even if accidental—can turn a nightmare into rays of hope." —Kathryn Craft, award-winning author of The Far End of Happy
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