No Coming Back
Rich, deeply embittered, is recovering from an accident he blames on his stepfather Jim. The injury has left him in pain, unable to play baseball, and may prevent him from ever returning to teaching physical education, a profession he loves.
Laura, now a nurse, knew Rich in high school and they reconnect in the emergency room. She knows how he should be, could be again, but is her growing love enough to get him there? Will he accept her help?
Ken, Rich’s stepbrother, has always known he would one day take over the family business, but will his father ever allow him to do so? And Ken can’t free himself from a teenage infatuation with his stepsister Wendy who has married someone else. And now Wendy’s marriage is in trouble and she is looking to Ken for support.
Susan, Laura’s cousin, saw Ken at a ballgame and fell instantly and hopelessly in love. But how can she meet him, and if she does, can she free him from his past and make him see he is an independent person?
And Jim, who has always controlled everything in his life, is watching his family disintegrate, as much because of his pride as anything else. Is there any way that he can let go in order to keep them?
Uncaged Review: This book is about a dysfunctional family who is torn apart then put back together. It starts with two friends, Laura and Susan, who are cousins, having brunch. Sue is mooning over a Kendall Weston who she wants to meet. Laura has just broken off her relationship with her boyfriend. Susan is the sister to Pete who is a minor league baseball player. Laura is a nurse.
Ken is the half brother to Richard Summers who is recovering from a major accident with a leg injury which has ended his career as a catcher for Pete in a minor league team and possibly his job as a physical education teacher. Laura is intrigued with Richard’s injuries, believing she might be able to help him but isn’t sure how to meet him again after losing track of him since high school.
Most of the book centers around Richard and his issues with his step father, Jim, and the recovery from his accident. At the beginning of the book, he is leaving the rehab with his current girlfriend, Gina, after refusing to return to his step-father’s house. He is leaving behind his mother who is a paraplegic but what happened between him and his stepfather was painful enough her refused to go home to recover.
The apartment he lives in is drab and depressing. He allows his roommate from rehab, Tex to live with him. Gina becomes unhappy as Rich is a wet blanket, unwilling to do much of anything other than drink. Thing fall apart at a party where Pete and his girlfriend, Sue his sister, Gina and Tex are there. Pete and his girlfriend leave first, not wanting to watch Rich get drunk. Rich runs Gina off with Tex but then has second thoughts about it, gets up, falls and hits his head. Sue calls 911 and then his family. She thinks she is talking to the father, but it is Ken.
Sue and Ken wait until they know Rich is going to be fine and to out for coffe. They start dating, Ken finding her good company. Rich meets Laura at the hospital and they make a connection. Tex moves in with Gina.
Laura and Rich date and she gently moves him from his depressing apartment into a house and then into making amends with his family. Meanwhile Ken is dealing with his father not trusting him to do a job and chaffs under his criticism. They have an argument and Ken leaves and moves out of the house into his own place, and quits working for the company he had expected to run when Jim retired.
Most of the book is tearing back the layers of the relationships of Ken and Richard with the stepfather Jim, who is blustery and gruff, unwilling to admit when he is wrong, alienating all his children other than his youngest child, Archie. Then there is Wendy, Richard’s sister who is attempting to draw Ken into a relationship even though she is married, aware he cared for her when they were teenagers. Her marriage is one where her husband ignores her and leaves her alone most of the time. Jim doesn’t like him but respects her choice. He does tell Wendy’s husband to pay more attention to his wife and less to his job.
You discover Archie lied to Jim about Richard talking money from his desk. Rich left in an ice storm and hit the telephone pole because of that lie. He refuses to return because of the lack of trust and accusations after Jim hit him.
Archie puts a note from Wendy to Ken on his father’s desk. It drives a wedge between Ken and Jim and is one of the reasons Ken quits the company after Jim accuses him of not doing his job and having an affair with his stepsister. Archie’s actions were to cover up stealing the money to join a club and to get even with Ken.
There is a lot to recommend this book with the characters who have to deal with the family issues while delving into themselve to come to terms with what they really want. As the story unfold you feel the pain of the men as Jim’s actions and words hurt both Ken and Rich. You also want to reach out and smack Archie, who is a brat. Laura and Sue are wonderful supporting characters who add to the layers of the story. This book gets 5 stars and is a recommended read. Reviewed by Barbara.