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Bent Road    by Lori Roy order for
Bent Road
by Lori Roy
Order:  USA  Can
Dutton, 2011 (2011)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

In the 1960s, Arthur Scott decides to take his family - his long-suffering wife Celia, teen daughter Elaine, son Daniel, and young daughter Evie - from Detroit and return to the small Kansas town that he left twenty years earlier after his teen sister Eve's mysterious death (its cause is the tragedy at the heart of this novel). Little Evie is 'the spitting image' of her dead aunt.

They arrive at Bent Road where Arthur grew up, and which still holds secrets, but soon move into 'the old Murray place' nearby. Elaine is immediately content after meeting a young local, Jonathon Howard. But Daniel and Evie are unsettled. Daniel goes through a Midwestern coming of age, while Evie fixates on her namesake, unaware that her aunt is long dead.

There are tensions immediately, between Celia and her mother-in-law Reesa, and soon with Arthur's brother-in-law Ray after the family notices signs that he has been abusing his wife, Arthur's older sister Ruth. Ray has long lived under a cloud of suspicion, as many believe that he murdered Arthur's sister Eve, and his personality has been warped by that history.

After a local girl goes missing (a lookalike for Eve and Evie), tensions escalate, and people look sideways at Ray - even Ruth wonders. After Ray's abuse heightens, Arthur brings Ruth to live with them, though Ray demands her back, supported by Father Flannery. Then a body is found.

There is more than one dark secret kept within this small community. When they're finally revealed and violence erupts, Daniel does what has to be done and proves his manhood. Bent Road is a well written account of the rippling effects of shameful secrets down through the years, as well as a touching tale of family and community.

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