The Ghost Daughter, by Maureen O’Leary
1989. The Loma Prieta Earthquake. For three women, life will never be the same.
The Ghost Daughter ($14.95, 236 pp, 6×9 Trade Paperback ISBN: 978-1-60381-287-0), is a work of literary fiction/women’s fiction by Maureen O’Leary. When the Loma Prieta Earthquake nearly claims the life of a young woman, it also unearths a dark past she is too young to recall.
“A remarkable and deftly crafted read from beginning to end, The Ghost Daughter showcases author Maureen O’Leary’s impressive flair for creating truly memorable characters and embed them in a riveting and complex storyline.” Read more….
—Mary Cowper for the Midwest Book Review
“I loved these tough, raw, and complicated women and read eagerly, carried along by the suspenseful unveiling of their shared history, and uplifted by the novel’s moving conclusion. [….] Recommended for readers who like strong-yet-flawed women with more heart and more grit than they know.” Read more….
“In October 1971, a little girl disappeared and her mother was arrested for murder. In October, 1989 a strong earthquake hits San Francisco leveling a shelter for homeless men and burying Angel who works there. Across town, Reese’s husband crashes his car with their daughter in the car. He doesn’t survive and their daughter is seriously hurt. These seemingly unrelated events turn out to be strongly connected and long kept secrets finally come to light. O’Leary’s book is a mystery full of surprises, but at its heart it’s really a story about the meaning of family and the long-lasting damage that mental and physical abuse has on a person. I loved the way the story is revealed slowly and the changing points of view drew me in and kept me emotionally attached to the lives of the three women. Violent at times, emotionally charged, and sometimes invoking tears, a gripping story.”
—Diane Ferbrache for the Unshelved Book Club
In 1971, a wounded young man runs with his daughter in the woods at night. As he collapses, he tells the little girl to run, and she does.
Eighteen years later, in October 1989, the Loma Prieta earthquake buries twenty-two-year-old Angel Kelley under a collapsed building. Her adopted mother Judith is diagnosed with cancer while her deepest secrets surface in national news. In nearby Silicon Valley, Reese Camden loses her husband in an accident that kills him and critically injures their five-year-old daughter Madison.
As news images of Angel’s rescue emerge, Detective Laura Redleaf recognizes Judith from an unsolved missing child case. She travels to Santa Cruz and learns from Judith that Reese is actually Angel’s biological mother Teresa, who has always known that Judith had her child. But Teresa has already fled and reinvented herself yet again, leaving her second daughter Madison in the hospital. Facing a kidnapping charge, Judith refuses medical treatment and bars Angel from visiting her in prison.
For life to move forward, Teresa must reclaim her identity and confront her terrible past. In the end, it will take more than tons of rubble to crush the spirits of these four strong-willed women as they fight for their families, seek redemption, and find love.
Says O’Leary, “When the Loma Prieta earthquake hit in 1989 I was at work in a brick building on Pacific Garden Mall in Santa Cruz, California. The building collapsed around me, trapping me under a desk and killing the people in the coffee shop on the other side of the wall. In the aftermath of the earthquake, I suffered debilitating night terrors and hallucinations. Yet I also began working in a homeless shelter, where indeed I was the only one willing to go into the shower house to retrieve the schizophrenics from the steam. I am fascinated by the way a physical geography affects the people who move on it. I am fascinated with the way parenthood as well as the loss of it shapes identity, and how human beings can find peace and healing in the redemptive power of romantic love.”
Maureen O’Leary is a writer and teacher living in Sacramento, California, with her husband and daughters. She loves writing, teaching, public speaking, and hiking in redwood forests and desert canyons. Her fiction has appeared in Esopus, Blood and Thunder: Musings on the Art of Medicine, Prick of the Spindle, Xenith, Fiction at Work and in an anthology from Shade Mountain Press. The Ghost Daughter is her third novel. In 2014, she published How to Be Manly (Giant Squid Books) and The Arrow (Geminid Press). Click here to find Maureen online.
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