Monday, April 23, 2012

In Leah's Wake by Terri Giuliano Long
My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

Book Blurb: 
The Tylers have a perfect life--beautiful home, established careers, two sweet and talented daughters. Their eldest, Leah, an exceptional soccer player, is on track for a prestigious scholarship. Their youngest, Justine, more responsible than seems possible for her 12 years, just wants her sister's approval. With Leah nearing the end of high school and Justine a seemingly together kid, the parents are set to enjoy a peaceful life...until Leah meets Todd, a former roadie for a rock band.

As Leah's parents fight to save their daughter from a world of drugs, sex, and wild parties, their divided approach drives their daughter out of their home and a wedge into their marriage. Meanwhile, twelve-year-old Justine observes her sister's rebellion from the shadows of their fragmented family-leaving her to question whether anyone loves her and if God even knows she exists.

Can this family survive in Leah's wake? What happens when love just isn't enough?

My review:
I belong to a fabulous group of bloggers called the Book Bloggers' Collaborative. The reason I wanted to read In Leah's Wake is because this a book that has recently been discussed quite a bit by my friends in the group and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.

In Leah's Wake is a very realistic fictional account of an extremely dysfunctional family.  Leah is a very self-centered and confused teenager. Justine is the good kid who worships her older sister. The parents struggle with how to handle Leah's spinning out of control while at the same time dealing with their own stagnant and failing marriage. 

This story is unusual in that we get the perspective of all four main characters as well as a fifth character, Jerry. Jerry is the cop that becomes involved with this family through encounters with Leah, and develops a friendship with Zoe, Leah's mother.  Jerry's own marriage has become less than satisfying.

With so many dysfunctional family relationships in this novel, I'd have to wonder if the author believes that functional family relationships can exist. That said, however, I will admit I can relate to much more of this novel than I'd like to be able to. Reminded me of much of my own childhood as well as the difficulties and frustrations I felt as a single parent raising my own children. 

My only true critique of this one is that I would have liked the epilogue to take place at a slightly later date, because I would have liked to know where these characters were, say a year or two farther down the road than where the author chose to end the story. Overall, a very realistic and relatable read. 

About the author:
Terri Giuliano Long grew up in the company of stories both of her own making and as written by others. Books offer her a zest for life’s highs and comfort in its lows. She’s all-too-happy to share this love with others as a novelist and as a lecturer at Boston College.

While her passion lies in the written word, Terri’s primary inspiration comes from her interest in existential philosophy and her observations of people and human nature. Her stories expand upon the subtle truths and what-ifs of everyday life. No matter where her stories journey, they always tie back to the family—the ways we love yet, in loving, too often hurt one another, the grief, the sorrow, the revelation, and the joy. Terri’s goal is to offer lasting hope and deep emotional connection in a compact and entertaining package.

Her life outside of books is devoted to her family. In her spare time, she enjoys walking, traveling to far-flung places, and meeting interesting people. True to her Italian-American heritage, she’s an enthusiastic cook and she loves fine wine and good food. In an alternate reality, she could have been very happy as an international food writer.

Terri loves connecting with people who share her passions. She can be reached on her website (, blog (, Facebook page ( or on Twitter (


  1. Great review and everyone sure has been talking about this one.

    1. Thanks Jess! But I think you should share here what YOU think of it. :)

  2. Fantastic review Cheryl! David is also reading this at the moment!

    1. I thought he might since the quiz showed he was a 12 year old girl! Be sure he tells us what he thinks when he finishes.

  3. Hi Cheryl,

    Thank you so very much for your thoughtful review! Yes, (laughing) I really do believe in functional family relationships - when the kids are all grown (laughing again). Seriously, thank you! I really appreciate your terrific review!

    I love the Book Bloggers Collective! What an amazing group of bloggers! You rock!

    I hope you have a lovely day!

    With all the best,


    1. I'm glad you enjoyed my review Terri. I do love our group and I realize I should have included the link, which I don't believe I did. Anyone interested in checking us out, go here:

      We are a diverse group and make a great team!