Fallon McKniere is a character you can't help rooting for. She's a member of America's working poor. Employed as a convenience store clerk, she can barely afford the rent on the rundown trailer she shares with her mentally ill mother. In order to put food on the table, she salvages items past their expiration dates from the store's dumpster. Her malnourishment is plainly evident on her already petite stature. However, beneath the fragile exterior is a girl determined to survive.
How did Fallon find herself in such dire straits? When she was 6-years-old, her father allegedly committed suicide after the Navy discovered he was embezzling money from weapons sales. An audit trail led back to orders containing his signature. His body was found on the Berryhill Road property he had purchased with the stolen money for a family home.
The disgraceful actions of her father made Fallon and her mother outcasts in their small Florida town. Her mother could not find decent work and fell into a deep depression refusing to leave their tiny trailer. Fallon became an outcast and ended up dropping out of school. While her mother drifted into a child-like state, Fallon shouldered the burden of trying to make ends meet.
Donovan Pfarr, an airplane mechanic at the local Navy base, finds his life upended when he discovers his blond bombshell of a wife in bed with his friend. After filing for divorce, he succumbs to drink and despair. However, a random act of kindness by Fallon knocks him out of his self-absorption. Working the night shift at the store, Fallon, who has nothing, pays for Donovan's purchase when he realizes he has left his money at home. By doing so, Fallon is brought to the forefront of Donovan's consciousness.
He is the first person in a long time to take notice of Fallon, a girl living in a state of social isolation. He makes the effort to get to know her, at first out of gratitude. But he begins to admire her strength of character. However, her pitiable physical condition worries him. He asks her out with the sole intention of providing her with something to eat. Yet as often happens, when two broken people come together, they end up making each other whole.
During this time, Fallon receives a letter informing her that a trust has been established in her name by an anonymous donor. Ten thousand dollars is wired into her bank account. Suspicious of the money and not willing to accept charity, Fallon does not touch her unexpected windfall even when Donovan tries to convince her otherwise.
Just as Donovan and Fallon are falling in love, Donovan's ex-wife returns to re-stake her claim. Fallon's mother is taken to the hospital by intervening paramedics when she barricades herself in her bedroom. While a man connected to the demise of Fallon's father returns to town with a murderous intent.
I am continually impressed with the talent of this self-published author. I am an avid reader, and Lyn's stories are addicting. Once you start reading, you can't put her books down. She creates likable, realistic characters whose morality is put to the test - whether it be by the temptation of desire, refusing help when it is needed or neglecting one's duty for selfish pursuits.
There are only a few minor flaws with On Berryhill Road. The ending is a bit rushed. I realize that suspense novels are fast-paced, but I would have liked the concluding chapters to have been fleshed out a bit more. Also for the cover of the book, I would have preferred a more realistic image of Fallon. This is NOT a cheesy romance novel, and the cover doesn't portray the depth of feeling that the narrative possesses. I would not want it to deter a potential reader from picking it up based on a superficial judgment of the cover image.
Overall, Tommie Lyn captures the determined struggle of the working poor through the poignant heart of Fallon McKniere.