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An American Family: A Gripping Contemporary Suspense Drama Kindle Edition
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Isaac and Ramie Childs and their children are living the American dream. They have plenty of money, but live quietly, getting along with everyone. They have a happy marriage/happy childhood, and no problems. Or do they…?
We don’t really get to know Ramie, as the story starts with her disappearance, so accounts of her life are secondhand and exceedingly biased. However Jackson Baer clearly shows that money and family aren’t everything when it comes to happiness, as secrets come pouring out of the closet and that shiny American family disintegrate into substance addictions, hidden pain and hidden pleasures.
A consistent theme throughout the novel is that of choice. The Childs family members make bad decisions generally. They are impulsive, prone to dependence and are unable to deal with life’s problems in a healthy way. Isaac in particular takes every opportunity to take the low road in what appears to be almost deliberate self-destruction.
It was fascinating to see how Baer took these broken individuals and what he made of them as the story developed. There are two distinct strands of the story, with the police investigation taking the style of a classic crime thriller, but the main plot focus remaining firmly on the struggles of those left to cope with the aftermath.
There were twists and turns along the way that I never saw coming, and the story ends on an almost-cliffhanger, leading in to the next in the series, Life After Death. There is some disturbing imagery related to the police investigation, so I would not recommend this story to the sensitive. If you like your crime stories to be firmly anchored in the intimate details of family life then this series provides just that: a family saga with a killer side-plot.
“Authorities in Woodstock are searching for a missing person. Ramie Childs was last seen yesterday around five o’clock in the evening, before she went for her nightly run…”
From his bed, Isaac watched the Atlanta morning news. No, this wasn’t a dream. Ramie really was missing. This was no longer an if. It had actually happened. She was on the news. How did they know already? Isaac woke Carter and Olivia and headed downstairs to call the police for an update.
– Jackson Baer, An American Family
Review by Steph Warren of Bookshine and Readbows blog
It is an emotional story that, for the most part, is well written. The narrative flows well, and although it does contain some odd phrasing and consistent typos, I never felt as though the standard of writing distracted me from the story. At the same time, though, there are a few political references that come across as extremely forced, and the relationship between Olivia and her father was highly disturbing - although I believe this to be unintentional. This is an eighteen-year-old girl who still calls her father "Daddy", obeying his every word without question.
Aside from these small grievances, however, I enjoyed the story of An American Family. I didn't expect to find the narrative as compelling as I did. I felt a consistent urge to read on and uncover more of the mystery wrapped up in the everyday lives of this family. There is perhaps a little TOO much focus on the family, as I did, at times, feel as though Baer was skirting around certain issues. Several times a police officer uncovers a piece of new information, but then no description is given to what it is. This, of course, does increase the drama in the novel, but it happens so many times that I began to wonder whether Baer simply didn't want to describe the more gruesome aspects of his story.
At the same time, a focus on the family may have been a wise decision, because the characters are quite interesting. At first, I believed them to be quite generic, possessing few individual qualities. As the story progressed, however, I began to realise how invested I was in them. I genuinely wanted to know what happened to them next... And I still do.
This book will not change the way you see the world, but it's a good story, and I think I will be buying the sequel.
Isaac Childs has it all, the perfect life, the perfect wife, or does he? When his wife disappears, Isaac finds his life turned upside down. When opportunity arises, he chooses to move on; life is unpredictable, will Isaac’s past catch up with him, and destroy everything?
This is the first book of Jackson Baer’s I have read; I was not disappointed with this story or Jackson’s writing. He has an excellent writing style that draws you in and has you hooked from early on. Isaac and his family intrigued me, it’s clear there is a lot to them as individuals and as a family.
This isn’t your typical crime story, this is about a man and his family who are dealt a seriously heart-breaking shock, one that changes their lives for ever and changes who they are. In some ways we see Isaac grow and in others we see the constant turmoil he lives with regarding his past choices and mistakes. Isaac’s children are also intriguing and complex characters, they both have their own struggles and secrets, which has intensified since the disappearance of their mother.
I loved that this story also gave us the view from the FBI as they investigated the disappearance of Isaac’s wife, they too, were intriguing and interesting characters.
Although to a degree I felt I knew where this story was going towards the end of this first book, in some ways it still came as a surprise, and I’m looking forward to continuing their story with book #2.
Crime, Mystery, Suspense, Romance, Saga, this story has it all! Jackson Baer has written an excellent and compelling story.