ABOUT THE BOOK
Adam Craig, a forty year-old stock trader in Chicago, finds his marriage teetering on the rocks and his life at a standstill. Desperate and on the edge of personal collapse, Adam takes the advice of a therapist and travels to his childhood family compound on Black Bear Lake with hopes of making peace with his past. Stepping onto the northern Wisconsin property, he relives the painful memories of the summer of 1983, his last summer at the lake.
In August 1983, a self-conscious fifteen year-old Adam carries a world of worry on his shoulders as he arrives at Black Bear Lake for a month long family reunion. Between anger and fear of mother’s declining health as she quietly battles a quickly spreading cancer and his cherished cousin’s depression over her parents’ bitter divorce, Adam is swept up in smothering familial love among the multiple generations and heartbreaking misunderstanding and betrayal. The arrival of a sensual but troublesome babysitter throws the delicate balance of his family into a tailspin. Blinded by his attraction to the newcomer, Adam fails to see his cousin's desperate cries for help and the charged electrical current running through his family's hierarchy. Crushed in the middle of it all, Adam is forced to learn that there's a fine line between self-preservation and the strength of family blood, all the while unaware of the impending tragedy that will ultimately change his life forever.
Granny, in one of her well-worn cotton lake dresses, stood at the stove, one hand stirring a buttery slow-cooking spaghetti sauce, the other holding her wine glass. Dannie’s mom, Patty, had the same sun-streaked blonde hair as her daughter and wore it thrown in a loose ponytail. She and my mother stood side by side at the butcher block, hips touching, as they peeled, scooped and chopped cucumbers for our salad. Gramps’ older sister, Genevieve, sat hunched over the long kitchen table, cane resting on her thigh, and kneaded the dough for her biscuits. They always turned out too dry and hard to eat but no one had the heart to tell her. My Aunt Tammy, tall and athletic, came in to thekitchen from the back yard where she had been grilling bratwurst. The dense smells, mixing and swirling, were so strong I swore they were visible before my eyes and immediately my mouth watered.
Tammy slammed the tray of sausages on the island counter, grinning amicably. “I’m of the personal opinion that any grilling should be done by the men of this family.
"I’m sweating like a pig out there”
“I’m of the opinion that I’d rather not have my brats turned into rubber, so the men grilling is not an option”,
Mom muttered loud enough to send the women into another fit of giggles. Noticing our arrival, she winked mischievously, “You weren’t supposed to hear that. Don’t tell your father.”
“Your secret is safe with me. For a price.” I reached for a brownie from the pile stashed in the corner.
Grannie’s head snapped up abruptly. “Not so fast, Mister. Here,” she said gently, taking my elbow, ”try this. I just want to make sure it’s alright.” She scooped a large portion of her sauce into a love-worn wooden spoon and handed it to me, smiling softly. Dannie slid into place beside her mother and began peeling carrots.
I held the spoon at my mouth, blowing away the steam. As I watched the group of women I felt an unfamiliar sting of jealousy. They danced around the kitchen, around each other, in a beautifully choreographed waltz that only they knew. Arms weaved above and below, reaching for salt, tomatoes and lettuce. Hands nudged and patted hips to the side, out of the way of opening drawers and the hot oven door. They silently stroked a lock of hair or kissed a forehead when passing through the narrow aisle between the island and sink. They were their own clan, set apart from the boys and men. It was an intangible relationship. The weight and mass so undeniable but at the same time so elusive it slipped through my fingers before I could grasp it. I watched my mom and ached for this bond with her.