Jennie Bateman screamed at her daughters, cursed at her husband, packed a bag, and walked away. Twelve years later, she petitions the family court for visitation with her daughters, Alexis and Christa.
Her attorney tells Jennie that, ordinarily, she could not imagine that some type of visitation would not be granted. But, she warns, the situation is hardly ordinary. True, Jennie suffered from a bipolar disorder when she began to drink heavily, abandoned her family, and moved in with another man. True, she has turned her life around: leaving her boyfriend, returning to school, entering therapy, taking medication, finding a job, and joining a church.
But she pressed no claim for her children when her husband divorced her, and she has made no attempt to contact them in any way since then. Her daughters, now sixteen and fourteen, live four hundred miles away. They have busy lives that do not include her, lives that will be totally disrupted by the visitation that she requests. Their father is engaged to be married to a woman who has taken the role of their mother for a decade. Alexis remembers nothing good about Jennie. Christa recalls nothing at all.
Conflict ensues as soon as Jennie’s petition is served: her former husband does not want to share his children with the woman who deserted him; her children have no interest in knowing the mother who abandoned them, and her father insists that she is being timid and ought to demand full custody, not simply visitation.
As court convenes, Jennie’s past is dredged up− the desertion, the men, her drinking, her mental health − and paraded before the judge. Her claim to be a different person, now, is attacked. The judge hesitates to grant Jennie’s request, but reluctantly agrees to order three trial visits.
If persuading the judge to let her see her children was difficult, convincing them to allow her to be a part of their lives seems to be almost impossible. What happens as she finally begins to connect with her daughters places them all in grave danger and threatens her life, itself.
Our Book Review
This is the third book I have read by this author and I have never been disappointed, the way he writes the characters seem to connect with you instantly and you become engrossed in the storyline. Those Children Are Ours was no different and I was faced with a number of emotions throughout this story and a twist that truly had me gasping for breath, it was that intense and completely made this such an awesome read.
Jennie, I admit, had me feeling angry, she was a wife and a mother of two but completely lost her way in life, travelling down a dark path of alcohol and affairs, eventually leaving her family to fend for themselves for 12 years. Unbeknowst to everyone, even herself, she had bipolar which had gone untreated and years went by until she connects with a man known as 'the preacher' who turns her towards the right path. Now on her own, receiving treatment, teaching and regularly going to church, she decides she wants to see her children, Christa and Alexis again. This is where my emotions fought against themselves, yes I sympathised with her situation and perhaps even started to warm towards her, especially when you learn about her childhood, yet I still couldn't get past the fact that she had selfishly abandoned her children and suddenly decides, with the encouragement of her counsellor, to apply to see them again just because she wants to without considering what affect this would have on those involved.
The impact of this decision is extremely hard on everyone, obviously more so for both teenagers Christa and Alexis, and the implications surrounding this cause no end of chaos and a shocking turn of events that will have you unable to put the book down. All the characters are extremely believeable, you will love some and you will hate some (believe me!) and the author had the teenagers feelings and actions down to a 'T'. This was such a well written book that you cannot fail to feel the characters
An wonderfully written story, full of impact and emotion, that stays with you long after you have finished reading it.
About the author
David Burnett lives in Columbia South Carolina, with his wife and their blue-eyed cat, Bonnie. The Reunion, his first novel, is set in nearby Charleston.
David enjoys traveling, photography, baking bread, and the Carolina beaches. He has photographed subjects as varied as prehistoric ruins on the islands of Scotland, star trails, sea gulls, a Native American powwow, and his grandson, Jack. David and his wife have traveled widely in the United States and the United Kingdom. During one trip to Scotland, they visited Crathes Castle, the ancestral home of the Burnett family near Aberdeen. In The Reunion, Michael's journey through England and Scotland allows him to sketch many places they have visited.
David has graduate degrees in psychology and education and previously was Director of Research for the South Carolina Department of Education. He and his wife have two daughters.
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