Whiskey and Rib­bons

Foreword Reviews - - Reviews - RE­BECCA HUSSEY

Leesa Cross-smith Hub City Press (MARCH) Hard­cover $27 (272pp) 978-1-938235-38-2

The tale of a young po­lice of­fi­cer killed in the line of duty, Whiskey and Rib­bons is an en­gross­ing, warm, and mov­ing look at fam­ily, friend­ship, loss, and love.

Ea­mon and Evan­ge­line are a young cou­ple liv­ing in Louisville, Ken­tucky, and ex­pect­ing their first child when Ea­mon is shot and killed on the job. Dal­ton, Ea­mon’s adopted brother and a close friend of Evan­ge­line’s, moves in to help her cope with this loss and care for her in­fant son. The point of view al­ter­nates be­tween the three adults, mov­ing back and forth in time to be­fore and af­ter Ea­mon’s death, cov­er­ing Ea­mon and Evan­ge­line’s romance, Ea­mon’s fears about his job, Dal­ton’s feel­ings about his adopted fam­ily, and more.

Cross-smith writes each of these char­ac­ters with depth and makes each one equally en­gag­ing. Ea­mon’s chap­ters cap­ture his fears for Evan­ge­line should any­thing hap­pen to him. These sec­tions con­trast beau­ti­fully and heartrend­ingly with Evan­ge­line’s de­scrip­tions of her grief. Dal­ton’s own com­plex ro­man­tic re­la­tion­ships pro­vide a con­trast to the steadi­ness of Ea­mon and Evan­ge­line’s love. Frances and Cas­sidy, Dal­ton’s two love in­ter­ests, come to life as fully re­al­ized char­ac­ters as well, and Dal­ton’s am­biva­lent feel­ings about meet­ing his bi­o­log­i­cal fa­ther pro­vide a sat­is­fy­ing sub­plot.

The plot is sim­ple and de­vel­ops slowly; it is not the main source of this novel’s sat­is­fac­tions. In­stead, it’s the novel’s emo­tional truths, par­tic­u­larly as ma­jor life events are grap­pled with, that hold at­ten­tion. The novel pon­ders some of life’s most press­ing ques­tions: what makes a fam­ily, what par­ents and chil­dren de­serve from each other, what makes a good mar­riage, and, most of all, how to cope with grief and loss.

Leesa Cross-smith’s Whiskey and Rib­bons is an ab­sorb­ing de­light.

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