cover image Beyond Deserving

Beyond Deserving

Sandra Jean Scofield. Permanent Press (NY), $28 (310pp) ISBN 978-1-877946-07-3

Scofield ( Gringa ) depicts the complex relationships connecting 45-year-old twin brothers, Fish and Michael, in Oregon with their wives and children and their parents, who are celebrating 50 years of marriage. Fish, a mercurial, alcoholic carpenter in the Pacific Northwest, appears at the anniversary party after spending a year in jail. Eight years earlier, after Fish had punched her, his wife, Katie, left their baby daughter, Rhea, with her mother in Texas. Now, stuck in a dead-end relationship with a scientist and still obsessing about her failed marriage, Katie seeks advice from Michael's wife, Ursula, a therapist who works with emotionally disturbed children. Failed by Ursula, who with her own children feels alienated from Michael, a special-education teacher, Katie turns to self-help groups and learns from a friend to stop trying to control Fish's actions and emotions; she also arranges to bring Rhea from Texas for a visit. Although Fish's eventual change of heart toward Katie and Rhea seems implausible, Scofield nevertheless makes readers care what happens in the unpredictable lives of her appealing characters. (Sept.)