One Wrong Turn, by Deanna Lynn Sletten

The words “I’m her husband” roll off Clay Connors’s tongue, but with his estranged wife lying in a coma—and no assurance that she’ll awaken—he knows he’s perilously close to losing everything. A singular, terrifying accident has left Jess Connors suspended between life and death. Now Clay is reunited with the family he hasn’t seen for two years, including the daughters he left behind.

Clay should have been there for his family. He never should have stayed away so long. The alcohol that took over his life destroyed everything but a shred of his self-preservation. Sober and haunted, Clay revisits the memory of love, marriage, and how his life unraveled. He hopes that by trying to reconnect with the daughter who blames him and the daughter who barely knew him, he can find a light of hope in this darkest hour. As his family faces its most grueling, emotional test yet, Clay must summon the courage to make right what was wrong—and find forgiveness from his harshest judge: himself. (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

One Wrong Turn is a story focused on a family dealing with tragedy, yet there are a lot of damaging waves threatening to pull everyone inside its undercurrent. Jess, wife and mother, has had a near-fatal car accident. Her two daughters are left without guidance because their father, Clay, hasn’t been around for two whole years. He’s been struggling with alcoholism, something he’s tried hard to keep hidden from everyone, especially his children. It was a lot easier to stay away, to keep away from the triggers that have caused so much strife within his family.

When he returns home, he’s met with strong resistance from many sides, only adding to his pressure and anxiety. He’s pulled in several directions, wanting to do everything it takes to help his wife recover, while at the same time tending to the needs of his daughters. I could feel just how hard it was for Clay to keep it all together, while he wants nothing more than to let himself fall apart, even just once.

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Having lived through my own experiences of knowing people who work on managing their addictions, I thought Deanna Lynn Sletten captured the essence of Clay well. His viewpoint is to take life a day at a time, a moment at a time, in order to make it through. It isn’t always easy, and it can often be a life that is hard to understand for those who aren’t familiar with it. I also thought she portrayed the struggle Clay’s children go through while trying to forgive their father, perfectly. His younger daughter is easier to win over, but the eldest can remember the moments where he wasn’t around when they needed him the most.

I also appreciated the strong support system Clay finds while trying to also become a support system for his family. I felt it was a nice way to parallel the various relationships that are forming or re-forming, and the flashbacks we are privy to of the life he had with Jess leading up to recent events was a nice touch. It showcased the importance of never giving up or giving in, even when it feels as though there might be no other options.

Originally reviewed for Chick Lit Central

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