||New York Times bestselling author Charlotte Vale Allen's 35th novel, Parting Gifts, introduces Kyra Latimer, who was reared in a Barrymore-esque family feeling like she never quite fit in with the rest of her beautiful, talented relatives. Devastated when her beloved older husband is killed in a tragic accident, Kyra can barely function, though her eccentric family does their best to help her cope. But Kyra quickly snaps back to reality when salvation arrives in the form of a dirty, bruised little scrap of humanity: a 3-year-old boy named Jesse. Literally dumped on her doorstep by his hard-eyed young mother, who claims to be the daughter Kyra gave up for adoption as a teenager--an interesting proposition, as Kyra is unable to have children--Jesse has seen and experienced too much ugliness in his young life and keeps warily silent. Given the choice of taking the tiny stranger into her home and heart or letting his mother place Jesse in foster care so she can move away with her boyfriend, Kyra begins negotiating the rough waters of teaching a child to trust again.
Thrown together by chance, this unlikely duo muddles along as well as it can. Kyra and Jesse simultaneously grieve their losses and learn to love the new opportunities they've been afforded just by being together. Along the way, the boy, who has no reason to trust others, especially a mother, grows into an exceptionally loving and talented young man. And Kyra, who once lamented her inability to conceive, devotes herself to nurturing and loving Jesse, thereby learning to nurture and love herself as well. As Kyra learns how to become a mother, Jesse learns to let her try--and sometimes fail--to parent him. But the biggest challenge of all lies ahead for Kyra and Jesse. Can a mother who loves her young son respect his life-or-death choice?
Canadian-born author Charlotte Vale Allen has never shied away from exploring less-than-admirable human behaviors, including incest and sexual abuse. In Parting Gifts, she turns her discerning eye to physical and emotional abuse, blended families, and the unique problems of foster care and adoption. Allen captures the day-to-day struggle of all women, making their problems and issues real and making readers care what happens to Jesse and Kyra. A captivating and touching read. --Alison Trinkle