The Way Back
Jack Elliot is stepping into midlife on top of his game. The flip, wise-cracking professor is up for tenure at a prestigious college and his books sell like hotcakes from coast to coast. He’s living the good life in a posh Connecticut shoreline town with all the trappings: marble fireplaces, sandy beaches, private boarding schools. The man is hitting on all cylinders and his future never seemed brighter.
That is, until the bottom falls out.
In a blink, seemingly every aspect of Jack’s world gets turned upside down. He faces trumped up academic harassment charges, discovers his wife has been unfaithful and his teenage son bullied by high school thugs. Enter the seductive and mysterious Rachel Pond into Jack’s life as well as troubling memories from a family swimming pool party that went horribly wrong, and suddenly he has more on his plate than he can handle.
Such circumstances take their toll, and the seemingly ordinary Elliot family is thrust down a path of uncertainty and upheaval it never intended to take. This becomes a tale of the spiritual emptiness that plagues families who seem to have it all, the emotional frailty that can strike anyone or any time without warning. As events run head-on into each other, the truth of the Elliots’ inner demons come closer to the surface: a father in a rush to make a living, a mother creating a world of escape and diversion, a teenage son secretly battling his own guilt and demons. Each has thrown up walls of isolation and protection, resulting in strangers living under the same roof.
This is a tale of death and rebirth, a story about a family whose lives have been rearranged and redefined by tragedy. The Way Back conveys simple messages about the complexities of life: how we need to accept our loved ones just as they are, their gifts and beauty along with their flaws and inner pain. In so doing, we discover what matters most.
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Reviewed by Lisa Jones for Readers' Favorite
The Way Back by Jeffrey Turner is about Jack Elliot and the turmoil he faces when he finds out that his wife has been having an affair. Apart from a few emails from a year ago, Jack has not much else to go on and is left in despair. He desperately tries to uncover the truth and at the same time he has his own demons to deal with at work. Jack is a professor and his recent altercations with classroom bullies leave him in hot water as far as his job is concerned. His family have also never come to terms with the tragic death of Charlie Ledger and for years Jack and his son Nathan have secretly blamed themselves. Also, in a strange turn of events, Jack finds himself attracted to one of his students, Rachel Pond, but the consequences of crossing paths with Rachel goes deeper than Jack will ever know.
Jeffrey Turner delivers a wonderful novel. As a reviewer, I tend to seek out and scrutinize a novel in great detail. This novel, however, is one of the best I have read this year. I shall start with the thing that reeled me in from the very beginning. "A mouse told me that my wife was having an affair. I know this sounds ridiculous but it's true." These words were all that was needed to keep my interest in discovering just how this was possible. What I discovered was a well thought out and beautiful story. As a reader, I empathized with Jack and felt his pain as he hit the bottle. The clever way in which the story about bullies was entwined was just lovely. It will send out a clear message and give hope to other victims. The fate of Rachel Pond and her husband was a surprise and this just shows how much of a promising author the writer is, giving us yet another twist of fate and depth. My favorite piece as a reader had to be about the ospreys and about the elderly woman Jack had met. Sadly, he would never get to meet her again, but I found this a beautiful piece of writing which was cleverly woven into this incredible novel. I cannot wait to purchase this book and add it to my library of rare finds and I urge others to do the same as you will not be disappointed. Jeffrey Turner should be proud of this remarkable novel and I look forward to reading more of his work in the future.
Reviewed by Mamta Madhavan for Readers' Favorite
The Way Back by Jeffrey Turner is an exciting story where readers can connect well with the characters and the happenings in the book. Jack Elliot is a professor as well as a popular author who lives in a posh neighborhood in Connecticut. He has everything going for him when suddenly everything changes. A series of personal events in his life throws his life off track - wife having an affair, fourteen-year-old son being bullied in school, and problems at his work place. The story shows the emotions that each member of the family undergoes which make them all strangers living under one roof. It is about a family that experiences problems and complexities in their lives; it is a story of tragedy and rebirth, and acceptance and tolerance.
What hit me about the story is the originality in the characterization and plot. The personal struggles faced by Jack Elliot's family is something that happens in many homes. The characters have been portrayed well and the scenes have been tied into each other beautifully. Then there is Rachel Pond, who brings a surprise twist into the plot.
The importance of tolerance and acceptance in relationships forms the underlying message of the story. Though the story might seem to be predictable initially, there are many twists and turns in the plot that keep up the excitement level. It is an engaging novel where a simple theme has been worked out well to create an excellent read. On the whole, well worth reading.