~ A lifetime of lies, and a truth too painful to tell.
When Suzanna Duff was ten years old, she lost her mama, and that’s when the lies began. At first, they were just harmless little fibs, a way to hide her unbearable loneliness and the truth about a daddy who came home rip-roaring drunk every night. But in time, the lies grew bigger and now, when she is a grown woman with a daughter of her own, they threaten to destroy everything she loves.
The irony of this situation is that Suzanna never planned to stay in Georgia, she was simply passing through, looking for a fresh start in New Jersey. Attending that wake with her daughter Annie, was a fluke. An opportunity to enjoy a free meal. It should have entailed nothing more than a solemn nod and a brief expression of sympathy but, Ida Parker, the grieving widow mistook her for her the granddaughter who was carried off as an infant. Too embarrassed to do anything else, Suzanna played along. What harm was there in pretending to be someone else for a few hours? Hours turned into days and days into weeks; strangers became friends, love happened, and before long a year had flown by.
Now the past is standing on her doorstep and Suzanna must decide to leave here and disappear as she has done before, or tell the truth and break the hearts of those she loves most.
In her last year of high school, Suzanna was in love with Bobby. When she discovered she was pregnant, Bobby broke up with her and her father kicked her out of the house. With nowhere else to go, she moved in with Earl, an older man who liked her. It's now 1960, eight years later, and Suzanna is in an abusive relationship with Earl and she's had enough. She sneaks off with her daughter, Annie, with $18 stolen from Earl's pants and heads to New Jersey, where she hopes to start a new life.
Suzanna and Annie hitchhike and get a ride as far as a small town in Georgia. She sees there is a memorial service for a man who had recently passed away. The buffet luncheon attracts her so she figures they will stop in, have a big meal and then move on. What she hadn't counted on is the widow thinking Suzanna is her long lost granddaughter, Darla Jean, and wanting her to stay on with her. So Suzanna becomes Darla Jean, which provides her and Annie something they have never had ... a stable home life and a loving family. As she builds a new life, gets a new a job, and falls in love with a school teacher, she is always looking over her shoulder, figuring the real Darla Jean will show up.
I thought this book was okay. It was written in third person perspective in Suzanna's voice. If you are looking for a nice clean wholesome story, you will like it. I've read many of this author
's books and this is her style.
I found a couple things hard to believe. When Earl wakes up after a drunk and realizes that Suzanna is gone and not coming back, he is determined to find her. For some reason, he assumes that she has gone back to Bobby ... the boyfriend who dumped her eight years ago when he found out she was pregnant. Suzanna has had no contact with Bobby in eight years and suddenly Earl assumes Bobby will be wanting them to be a family? Really?! So he goes on the hunt to find Bobby figuring Suzanna and Annie would be with him.
Another thing was when Suzannna's life is good ... she has a nice job, a "grandmother" who loves her and a boyfriend ... Bobby pops back into her life. She realizes she's still in love with him and is prepared to drop her new life for him so they can be a family. Keep in mind that this is the guy who dumped her eight years ago and wanted no part of being a dad ... I found it unbelievable that Suzanne would make the leap immediately that Bobby wanted to marry her, especially considering the crappy life she's had until she found her "grandmother". By this point, she's about 26 and I couldn't believe she would suddenly still have the same feelings for Bobby she had when she was 18. No way!