Title: The Favor by Megan Hart
Imprint: Harlequin Mira
Genre: Contemporary, Mainstream, Fiction
Length: 384 pages
Book Rating: A
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
With characteristic compassion and searing honesty, MEGAN HART weaves a shattering small-town story about what can turn brother against brother, and the kinds of secrets that cannot remain untold.
Janelle Decker has happy childhood memories of her grandma’s house, and even lived there through high school. Now she’s back with her twelve-year-old son to look after her ailing Nan, and hardly anything seems to have changed, not even the Tierney boys next door.
Gabriel Tierney, local bad boy. The twins, Michael and Andrew. After everything that happened between the four of them, Janelle is shocked that Gabe still lives in St. Mary’s. And he isn’t trying very hard to convince Janelle he’s changed from the moody teenage boy she once knew. If anything, he seems bent on making sure she has no intentions of rekindling their past.
To this day, though there might’ve been a lot of speculation about her relationship with Gabe, nobody else knows she was there in the woods that day…the day a devastating accident tore the Tierney brothers apart and drove Janelle away. But there are things that even Janelle doesn’t know, and as she and Gabe revisit their interrupted romance, she begins to uncover the truth denied to her when she ran away all those years ago.
The Favor by Megan Hart is a complex and multi-layered novel about two families whose lives are forever intertwined by their past. It is a captivating read that is full of strong emotions and has an incredibly well developed cast of characters. The compelling plot is sometimes so heartbreaking it will take your breath away.
Janelle Decker spent many blissful summers and her tumultuous senior year with her grandmother, Nan. Her happy memories are marred by the events that led to her rapid and permanent departure twenty years prior. But when Nan’s health takes a turn for the worse, Janelle and her son, Bennett, leave their old life behind to move in with her. Janelle is soon frazzled by her nursing duties and Bennett’s difficult transition to his new school. Adding to her already complicated life are the unresolved issues with the Tierney’s, Nan’s next door neighbors, and the unexpected return of her long absent father.
The characters in The Favor are multifaceted, emotionally damaged people dealing with realistic and painful problems. Nan is facing life threatening health issues that are taking her independence and her dignity. Janelle is a single mom, struggling to give Bennett a happy childhood that will set him on the right path as an adult. The Tierney family (brothers Gabe, Andy and Mike and father Ralph) are dealing with the dysfunction that began in childhood and continues to reverberate into adulthood.
Janelle’s day to day life with her caretaking and parenting duties is emotionally and physically exhausting. Janelle’s struggles with the change in her relationship with Nan are accurately depicted and will resonate with anyone who has had to take care of their parents or an elderly relative. This role reversal is difficult and heartrending but it is wonderfully balanced by the close and loving bond shared by Nan and Janelle.
Janelle is a good parent and her relationship with Bennett is fairly typical in today’s culture. She is trying and mostly succeeding in giving Bennett room to grow and make mistakes while keeping a very close eye on him and his activities. Bennett can be a surly and uncommunicative pre-teen, but he is also a sweet and loving boy whose intuitiveness is sometimes surprising.
The most complicated relationship in the novel is the one between Janelle and the Tierney brothers. Gabe and Andy still live next door with their father, and the dysfunction of their youth still continues. A tragic accident haunts all of the brothers while Andy lives with the devastating effects of that long ago event. Gabe is duty bound to care for Andy and their father and while he is sometimes harsh, he also has a gentler side that he keeps carefully hidden.
Underlying all of the events in the present are the secrets of the past. Flashbacks to pivotal moments from Janelle and Gabe’s relationship provide insight into both characters and vague hints of coming events. Excellent foreshadowing gives readers a good idea of what might have occurred but Ms. Hart has a few unexpected plot twists up her sleeve. And the favor that sets in motion the unstoppable and tragic chain of events that changes everyone’s lives? It is kept tightly under wraps for much of the novel but it is well worth wait as it ties all of the various threads of the plot together in a very dramatic and spellbinding ending.
As is common with Megan Hart’s novels, she puts her characters and her readers through an emotional wringer. She deftly handles a very sensitive subject without going into a lot of detail but once all of the facts are known there is little doubt about what occurred. The ending of The Favor is not a happily ever after but it is a happy for now that gives many of characters the promise of a better future.
The Favor is another exceptional novel by one of my favorite authors that I highly recommend.