cover image A Light in the Forest

A Light in the Forest

Melissa Payne. Lake Union, $16.99 trade paper (354p) ISBN 978-1-66250-368-9

A new mother discovers a sense of belonging after leaving her abusive boyfriend in this intensely emotional contemporary family saga from Payne (The Night of Many Endings). Vega Jones flees her Colorado home with two-month-old Riley in tow, heading for Crystal, Ohio, because of a beautiful postcard of the town that she found in her late mother’s things. It seems as good a place as any to hide out from her violent ex. Upon arrival, however, she discovers the town is far from picture-perfect. Luckily, Vega finds fast friendship with some of the tight-knit locals, among them her landlord, Eve, and Heff, a town deputy whose kindness knows no bounds. As Vega works to fix up Eve’s run-down apartment in exchange for free rent, however, she attracts the ire of local bullies—and uncovers some shocking secrets about her mother’s past. Along the way Vega develops her confidence, rediscovers her faith that not all men are jerks, and finds acceptance, especially from Eve, whose near-death experience years before left her with eerie insight into future events. The authentic characters and their realistic struggles make this introspective tale entirely believable. Vega’s resilience is sure to endear her to readers. Agent: Jessica Faust, Bookends Literary. (Dec.)