By Steven Clark
310 Pages, Summer 2012
In the early 1980s, four people in central Missouri are haunted by the past. Ngo, a writer of children’s books, is crippled from a wound received in Vietnam. His writing makes him come to terms with the loss of his country, as does letters he writes to Nguyen, an old friend who betrayed him. Ngo’s best friend is Judith Vogel, a teacher who can’t forget the oppression she saw in Guatemala. This leads her to befriend Concepcion, a girl from that country who is in Missouri to study music.
Concepcion rebuffs Judith’s efforts and throws herself into her music…which helps fight off nightmares she has about Guatemala. Judith loses herself visiting an abandoned cemetery, many of whose graves are those of German settlers massacred by Confederate guerillas in the last months of the Civil War. Jonathan Amesbury runs a small-town newspaper while he decides whether to return to London or save his family’s ancestral mansion. He wants to find out Concepcion’s secret, and joins forces with a reluctant Judith. Will this be the big story he sought, or will their haunted pasts overwhelm him?