Blissfield, North Carolina is a dead end town in the heart of empty. Yet days after her 15th birthday, Bethany Celeste Castle arrives in Blissfield, a fugitive from Copley Castle, her alcoholic, viciously abusive father. A witness from her earliest childhood of her father’s escalating acts of violence, Bethany struggles to adapt to the quiet, small-town world of her grandmother, Corinthia Bibb Castle. Properly fed, clothed, and experiencing true stability for the first time, Bethany slowly blooms, protected by her grandmother’s respected position in the community. Bethany soon meets Gideon and Nina Price, a brother and sister living alone on the outskirts of town. Bethany is drawn to Nina, whose quirky intellect and love of books matches her own. But she is also attracted to Gideon, Nina’s handsome, silently watchful younger brother, whose eyes speak of secrets neither of the Prices will share. Coming to understand how poverty, a tangled family history and the treacheries of skin color have led to her friends’ exile from Blissfield life, Bethany begins to question her own family story and the origins of her father’s cruelty. As her friendship with the Prices deepens to love, Bethany pledges to stand by them, no matter what challenges they face, and to never, ever leave them behind.The events of one terrible afternoon force Bethany to return to Ohio, and she soon falls victim to her father’s psychotic rage. Battered, broken and left for dead, Bethany faces an uphill battle to rebuild her life. At the moment when she needs then most, however, Nina, Gideon and her grandmother seem to vanish, leaving Bether to face her painful recovery alone. Fifteen years later, on receiving the news of Corinthia’s death, Bethany embarks on a blind but determined quest to find the two remaining people she loves most in the world — Gideon and Nina Price — convinced that without them she will never be whole. Her search for the Prices uncovers acts of betrayal and deceit perpetrated generations before that set the destruction of both their families in motion.
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