Tall Poppy Review: Ghosts of the Past in “One More Day”

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When someone dies, we may wish for more time with them. Just one more day. But what if that happened? What if they actually came back?This premise launches Kelly Simmons’s graceful and otherworldly suspense novel, One More Day (Sourcebooks LandmarkCarrie and her husband are mired in grief after the mysterious kidnapping of their son Ben. One second he was in his car seat. And the next, while his mother looked for change for parking, he was gone. The detectives have made no headway and the case is quickly turning cold.

But then a year later, Ben returns.

His parents are shocked and overjoyed. The detectives are astonished, as well as suspicious. But, there’s something odd about Ben’s reappearance. It’s been a whole year – and he hasn’t changed an iota. His hair is exactly the same length, and he fits right in his car seat. His height hits the exact same pencil mark on the doorway. Carrie fears that Ben may be ghost in-the-flesh, which of course, her husband considers crazy.

But then, the next morning, he has vanished again.

Not only does this rip the band-aid off their healing, it also re-opens the case. While the detectives focus on her and her husband, Carrie faces both wanted and unwanted visitors from her past. In a whirlwind of unearthly encounters, she meets a cast of phantom characters, from her grandmother and old boyfriend to a malevolent neighbor. And they all seem to have some connection to her son.

But when she tries to explain these visitors, everyone doubts her – or even worse – suspects her.

The question now looms: is Carrie delusional, or are these people real?

Simmons’s vivid depiction of a world peopled with both the living and the dead forces us to examine our own beliefs. Carrie points out that her family blindly takes the sacrament every Sunday accepting the body of Christ, but then does not believe in life after death. What is religion, if not for a belief in the inexplicable, the unbelievable?

This is not a religious book, but faith permeates the writing. The theme of openness flows in tandem with this. Carrie adamantly refuses to lock their house or get an alarm system, which infuriates her husband. If she had just locked her car door, Ben would never have been taken. But, if her house had been locked a year later, he may never have returned. Her unwillingness to lock up her earthly goods seems like an irresponsible quirk, but really represents a refusal to close herself off. Carrie insists on keeping herself open to spiritual experiences, even when troubling or dangerous.

Carrie realizes that only by accepting these visitations, can she finally face the painful secrets of her past, and find out the real truth about Ben’s disappearance.

Simmons deftly explores the boundaries of faith, and the border between life and death. Her expertly crafted prose provides a solid bridge on the journey. And Carrie’s portrayal is both believable and original, providing an engaging but reliable guide. Ultimately, the mystery of a lost child in One More Day reveals a far greater mystery of the life and death, while still remaining a compelling and enjoyable read. Most writers would not be able to pull this off – Simmons excels at it.

One More Day is now available to purchase.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kelly Simmons is a former journalist and advertising creative director and the author of the novels Standing Still, The Bird House, One More Day, The Fifth of July, and coming next year, Where She Went. She’s a member of WFWA, the Tall Poppy Writers and The Liars Club, a nonprofit organization dedicated to mentoring fledgling novelists. She also co-hosts The Liars Club Oddcast, a weekly podcast interviewing top authors and discussing the craft and business of writing. More at kellysimmonsbooks.com

 

Sandra A. Block graduated from college at Harvard, then returned to her native land of Buffalo, New York, for medical training and never left. She is a practicing neurologist and proud Sabres fan, and lives at home with her husband, two children, and impetuous yellow lab Delilah. She has been published in both medical and poetry journals. She is the author the Zoe Goldman series of books, LITTLE BLACK LIES, THE GIRL WITHOUT A NAME, and THE SECRET ROOM. Her newest book, WHAT HAPPENED THAT NIGHT, is available now. Visit Sandra’s Website: www.sandraablock.com Visit Sandra’s Amazon Author Page Visit Sandra on Goodreads

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