A Perfect 10
ISBN: 978-1-5011-5655-7
June 2017

Alden, Maine Present Day

The Kelly family lives in the scenic coastal town of Alden, Maine. Jack, the dad, is a lobsterman with a thriving business on shore, too. Hope, the mom, writes for the local newspaper as well as contributing to some popular magazines. Everything is seemingly perfect as they restore Jack's family's house, the Salt House, and raise their three daughters sixteen year-old Jessica, eight year old Kat, and baby Maddie. But happiness and the closeness of the family ceases when Maddie is found dead in her crib.

A year after Maddie's death, Hope has still not returned to work; they are paying two mortgages, struggling to make ends meet since Hope has no interest in finishing the Salt House. Jack is working himself to death, Jess is working for her father and his partner, avoiding any family issues, and Kat is having trouble at school where she is getting bullied by a local boy. Friends try, in vain, to help the Kellys, but it seems no one wants to deal with the grief head on. Hope throws a welcome to town party for a friend, Peggy, and her husband, Ry Finn. What Hope doesn't know is that Jack and Ry have a history, and it isn't a pretty one.

THE SALT HOUSE is a poignant story of real life and how each family member handles their grief. Hope, in her profound sadness, must also keep to herself how Maddie actually died, and that alone is painful. Jack tries to curb his anger at Ry who threatens his business, and is worried that he and Hope will never have the shared love they had before. Jess, growing up in the turmoil, watches from the periphery as her family falls apart. Kat is the only one who feels optimism, but her eight-year-old way of handling it doesn't get through to her elders. She is the only one who wants to move on from that horrible day.

I loved this book. Each chapter was narrated by a different family member, so that readers could delve deeper into each person's feelings and thoughts. Realistic and down to earth, this beautifully written tale was not easy to put down.

Jani Brooks