Pub. Date: June 25th, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
The Favor is a captivating, thought provoking, and at times heartbreaking, work of literary fiction. I have to admit I was apprehensive given what I know about some of Hart’s other novels in a different genre, but this novel completely blew me away.
When Janelle Decker’s uncle calls, asking if she, along with her son, could move from California to Pennsylvania to look after her terminally ill Nan, the proposition is both daunting and surprisingly welcome. Having lived with her Nan during the ‘vacation’ times she was supposed to be spending with her dad, and permanently during her rebellious alcohol and drug fueled senior year of high school, St. Mary’s is in some ways home, and in other ways representative of parts of the life she tried to leave behind.
Having once been the one tucked into bed and looked after by her Nan, and now having the tables turned, seems to be the only thing that has changed in St. Mary’s. The house is virtually the same, as are the neighbors, including Gabriel “Gabe” Tierney, Janelle’s first love. Seeing Gabe again is exciting,confusing, and heart breaking – the same feelings he left her with as a teenager. Janelle’s life, and as she quickly discovers, the life of the Tierney boys, are anything but simple. The narrative is slowly revealed through the alternating perspectives of Janelle and Gabe, both in the present day and throughout their younger lives, focusing on the relationships between Janelle, her Nan, her son Bennett, and Gabe, with an undercurrent of Janelle discovering the truth about the devastating accident involving Gabe and his brothers, leaving his brother Anthony shot in the head and permanently disabled.
The novel has elements of romance that Hart fans may know her for, but it is about so much more than just the relationship between Janelle and Gabe. The family histories, family secrets, and pain that both Janelle and Gabe have had to endure at the hands of their fathers is a unifying force between the two and a compellingly addictive story for the reader. The novel at times is so much more about what is not said, and not explained, than what is. Some of the best elements are the beautiful relationships between Janelle and her Nan, and the tension relieving friendship between Bennett and Anthony that shows how far one will go to protect the people they love.
The one complaint I have is about what ‘the favor’ is revealed to be. I get that this one favor sets many other events in motion, but I didn’t necessarily believe – or maybe I just didn’t want to believe – that the person who does the favor, would have actually done it. Overall, the novel is a very well constructed, and entirely engrossing, character driven story about family revelations from which you learn what you can, and what you will never, be able to forgive.
Recommended for a mature reading audience because of tougher content including abuse.
*** I received a copy of this novel from the publisher to read and honestly review. I was in no way compensated.