A Hand to Hold in Deep Water
by Shawn Nocher
This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.
Pub Date 22 Jun 2021 | Archive Date 06 Aug 2021
Willy Cherrymill and his stepdaughter, Lacey, are deeply bruised by a past brimming with unanswered questions. It’s been thirty years since May DuBerry, Willy’s young wife and Lacey’s mother, abandoned them both, leaving Willy to raise Lacey alone.
Lacey Cherrymill is smart, stubborn, and focused. She’s also single mother to a young daughter recently diagnosed with a devastating illness. The last thing she needs to think about right now is the betrayal that rocked her childhood. Reluctantly, she has returned to her rural beginnings, a former dairy farm in the Maryland countryside, and to Willy, a man steeped in his own disappointments and all the guilt that goes with them.
Together they will pool their wobbly emotional resources to take care of Lacey’s daughter, Tasha, all the while trying to skirt the issue of May’s mysterious disappearance. But try as she might, Lacey can’t leave it alone. Just where is May DuBerry Cherrymill and why did she leave them, and how is it that they have never talked about the wreckage she left behind?
A Hand to Hold in Deep Water is a deeply felt narrative about mothers and daughters, the legacy of secrets, the way we make a family, and the love of those who walk us through our deepest pain. It is about the way we are tethered to one another and how we choose to wear those bindings. These are characters you won’t soon forget and, more so, won’t want to leave behind when you turn the last page.
“Shawn Nocher’s A Hand to Hold in Deep Water is beyond thrilling. Tender, fierce, achingly beautiful, this far-reaching novel of family and a woman’s fight to keep her life and those she loves afloat sounds the depths of honesty, secrecy, and our desire for connection with a sharp, unyielding insight. Add in the clarity of the writing, its supple lyricism and wry humor, and spread the news: Shawn Nocher is a writer to watch.”
-Elise Levine, author of This Wicked Tongue
“A gorgeous…debut novel by Shawn Nocher…Tender and piercing, A Hand to Hold in Deep Water is about secrets, shame, love, and what makes a family.”
-Kim Magowan, author of The Light Source
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Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 16 members
This is a touching, captivating, and heartfelt novel. The characters are deep, touching so many emotions and drawing you into a realistic story of love, pain, joy, and sadness. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
A Hand to Hold in Deep Water by Shawn Nocher, published by Blackstone Publishing, is a story that will stay with me. It's an emotional read, intense, deals with sensitive subjects, consider you warned. The full length stand-alone had me in suspense from start till the last page. I easily connected with characters and storyline. My heart was hurting for them. Lacey and Tasha, Willy and May, Sugar and all the others have an intriguing story to tell. This new to me author nailed it form the start. I loved the excellent writing, the outstanding storyline, how everything comes tohgether. The well deserved hea. I recommend the book, 5 stars.
Review also published on blog: https://books-are-a-girls-best-friend.com/ The day Willy Cherrymill fell for May DuBerry, his life changed in a myriad of ways. A chicken farmer, he fell and fell hard, for May and for her daughter Lacey. His life seemed picture-perfect until the day May abandons them both. Now twenty-seven, Lacey Cherrymill has always felt like she was missing something. That something is her mother. A Professor at a nearby college, Lacey’s life revolves around teaching and her precocious, five-year-old daughter Tasha. Though it has been a while since Lacey saw her stepfather, a trip to the farm is just what they both need. For Willy, Lacey, and Tasha, family is what you make of it and the bonds these three share are heartfelt, and true. When near-tragedy strikes, these three will find that together they can face anything. A sweet, heart-wrenching, and evocative character-driven story, I adored the characters of Willy, Tasha, and Carlotta in “A Hand to Hold in Deep Water” by Shawn Nocher. The relationship between all of the characters in this story is what drew me in. Told in the present day and through past diary entries of May Duberry’s, I found the writing and the story to be quite compelling. Though there were times where I would have liked to be shown more of the story through the lives of the characters, v told what had happened, I think that the way this story was presented lent itself to the way it was ultimately told. All in all, I found “A Hand to Hold in Deep Water” to be wholly compelling. The book’s message struck a chord with me and I have a feeling that it will resonate with everyone else who reads it. Thank you to Blackstone Publishing, NetGalley, and Shawn Nocher for the arc. Published on Goodreads, Twitter, and Instagram.
When I read the description for A Hand to Hold in Deep Water. I had to try and get it! Knew this book was going to fire! Lacey returns to her rural hometown in Maryland..... and she is looking for answers! Her child was filled with questions! Laceys mother May up and left her 30 years ago for her stepfather Willy to care for her! They both have questions about why she just left! Lacey and Willy pull together to take care of Laceys daughter Tasha who was just diagnosed with an illness. Will she finally get answers? And what will be the outcome? I absolutely love books that draw me in. And I'm so gripped in reading that I forget about the world even if its for A couple minutes! That's what this book did for me! I absorbed these characters. The story held my attention throughout the entire read!n That is what makes a great book to me! I can't thank Blackstone Publishing, NetGalley and Author for giving me a chance to read this fabulous ebook copy! Will post to my Goodreads and bookstagram closer to pub date!
When the unthinkable happens and Lacey needs to seek medical attention for her five year old daughter, Tasha, she heads home to the farm she grew up on and her step father, Willy. Going home brings her closer to the care needed at John Hopkins for Tasha, but it also brings up many unanswered questions. Why did her own mother leave them when she was young? Weren’t they good enough? Did she do something to drive her away. Told in the present and throughout diary entries of the past, we slowly learn the cold hard truth of why May left. At times this book was a difficult read with the tough subject matter it contains, but filled with some lovable characters, I found it a compelling. As the past meets the present and the book draws to a close, I felt that the past overshadowed the present and I ended up wanting more!
I received an ARC of this novel from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. May returns to her step-father's home with her young daughter during a health crisis. While there, she confronts him about the mother she barely remembered. The truth of what she finds is unspeakably horrible.
This is NOT a beach read- it's slow like molasses, which can be a good thing, and in this case it is (though I think some shortening could have helped). Telling multiple stories at one time- both that of Lacey (and her daughter) and her mother, the story goes back and forth in time. The time doesn't slow it down, it's the scene setting and narrative prose. While beautiful to read, it slows you down a bit. It's a story of what makes us family- is it blood, or is it love and need? Sometimes the help we need to figure that out comes from unexpected avenues, and provides a future you don't see coming. Ultimately though, it's a story of forging your own path and unburdening yourself from a past that is carried down, and moving on to tell your story.
June 2004 ‘She and I are lying on the dock, peering through the planks at an especially large jellyfish, the breadth of a dinner plate thick and milky, drifting beneath us in the brackish water. They’re common in the river this time of year, something to do with the salinity, but these larger ones with their ruffled pink insides are more unusual, and we watch in rare silence.’ Lying peacefully alongside the St. Mary’s River, Lacey and her friend Tasha, this is how this story begins. For a moment in time all seems like a perfectly idyllic scene of those summer childhood days spent languidly exploring the mysteries of the world. Still, there are bigger mysteries in life, some growing more mysterious as the years pass. Why did May, Lacey’s mother, suddenly disappear, and where is she? Why would she abandon her, leaving her with her stepfather Willy? As many years have passed, and the ‘why’ of her mother’s disappearance continues to haunt her, she feels an increasing need to come to terms with her mother’s leaving her. She now has a five-year-old daughter, Tasha, and she can’t imagine leaving her behind. She goes in search of the past as a way to make sense of the present, and answers about the past. This story unfolds at a languid pace, much like childhood summer days spent chasing those moments that cannot live forever, but are forever a part of us. We learn of the past through May’s diary, while also following the story as it unfolds in the present day, until eventually, the past has been revealed. This was a tenderly handled, heart-rending story with wonderful characters whose stories I was drawn to, hoping their search would bring them peace. Published: 22 Jun 2021 Many thanks for the ARC provided by Blackstone Publishing #AHandtoHoldinDeepWater #NetGalley
Favorite Quotes: Something was expected of her, something that might change the course of what was transpiring, but whatever it was felt just out of reach, like a word one might search for and though it shimmies around the tongue, it can’t be called up. His voice is a painful thing in my ear that has settled in the corners of my mind like broke glass. I cannot bear the feel of his words. She reaches across the table and takes his hand in hers. It’s so big, has always been so big around hers. She squeezes and he lifts his other hand from his lap, places it over hers. She knows now that she had been miraculously caught in the depths of a fall, cushioned by this man with the deepest of hearts. My Review: This was an intensively emotive read that was so perceptively written it was startling. I tumbled right into this itchy, prickly, and heart-squeezing tale and I grew to love these oddly compelling and uniquely crafted personalities. The characters weren’t people I would ordinarily seek out to spend time with yet they become so very knowable to me and I found their story addictive and gripping. The storylines were cunningly crafted and maddeningly paced with intriguing, painful, and cringe-worthy elements that will stay with me for quite some time. Yet even those uncomfortable events were painted in an uncommonly personable and deeply observant manner and were so very thoughtfully presented that I found an odd wetness seeping from my eyes and hot rocks in my throat as I gasped to catch my breath. I am astounded by the quality and depth achieved by a first-time novelist. Shawn Nocher is definitely one to watch and was quickly added to my list of new favorites.