Back to Normal
Is it ever better to lie than to tell the truth?
"BACK TO NORMAL," set in the early '90s in the eastern Sierra, is divided into three parts. In part one the reader meets Sue and Chris Beauchamp, married twenty years and the parents of three children. When their oldest daughter, Michelle, is injured in an accident while driving home from college for Christmas, hard decisions have to be made. A blizzard rages outside the small hospital in the Beauchamp's mountain town, and Michelle needs a blood transfusion. The parents are asked to donate which reveals a secret: Michelle is not Chris Beauchamp's biological daughter. Sue contacts the biological father, John Sadek, a friend and neighbor. He donates which saves Michelle's life but causes Sue to lose her own. In the aftermath Chris leaves and takes his sons with him, John pressures Sue to tell Michelle that he is her real father, and Sue tries to protect Michelle until she recovers, only to have her daughter learn the truth and run away.
Part two allows the reader to travel back twenty years as Sue, Chris, and John come to the eastern Sierra after college to work. A tangled web of love and friendship leaves Sue heartbroken when John and Chris's former girlfriend, Karen, go off to Boston for grad school. Sue follows Chris to UC Berkeley where they fall in love and marry. The following summer, they return to Pleasant Valley, only to have John and Karen return as well. John tempts Sue, and when she succumbs to an overture she immediately regrets it, but it is too late. She is pregnant and must decide whether to abort or tell Chris that the child may not be his. With her mother and sister's support, Sue keeps her baby and her secret from Chris, but after Michelle is born, a blood test confirms Sue's worst fears. Convinced that if she becomes the perfect wife and mother, the only truth that will matter is her love for Chris and Michelle, Sue decides to keep her secret.
Part three follows Sue as she attempts to repair the damage of the lie. First, she must find her daughter and explain her decision. Then she must win back Chris's love and trust. Finally, she must heal the damage done to John and Karen Sadek's marriage, for while they have publicly stated they do not want children they are actually unable to conceive. It makes John desire for a relationship with Michelle all the more poignant, though Sue knows she must convince him to wait until Michelle and Chris's relationship has had a chance to heal. As Sue strives to reunite her family, "BACK TO NORMAL" is brought to a realistic yet satisfying conclusion.
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