What’s the key ingredient to identity? Is it the physical body you occupy or the memories you carry with you? If you were to wake up in another body but still had all of your original memories, would you still be you?

In Kevin Ready’s A New Chance (Saint Gaudens Press), Mark Kelleher faces these questions head on when he experiences the unlikely situation of waking up in the body of a young woman named Naomi Donnelley. As if that wasn’t enough, he also finds himself in a state mental hospital with the added baggage of pending criminal charges from a past that doesn’t belong to him.

As he (or is it she now?) tries to untangle the messy hand karma has dealt him, he begins to consider that maybe it is neither the physical body nor the memories that make a person who they are. Maybe true identity has more to do with the choices one makes, and Naomi has plenty of new directions to explore.

Understandably, Naomi is careful about who she reveals her biggest secret to. Of course, she cannot just go around telling everyone that she is a middle-aged man named Mark rather than the young girl she appears to be.

Themes of strange coincidences and a sense of destiny tend to pop up as the novel wends its way through many side stories that span the course of several years and several countries. Ready’s writing style leaves scarcely a detail unexplored. Readers have a front row seat to watch Naomi face a gamut of challenges and make career decisions that lead her to get involved with some impressive lines of work. Naomi indeed makes the most of her “new chance” at life.

There are some golden nuggets to be found along the journey — courageous characters and some great action scenes among them. The road Naomi takes is a long and varied one. Those who choose to go along on the ride will learn that there is still hope for us yet.

A New Chance is available for purchase.

Kevin E. Ready has a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Denver College of Law and his bachelor’s degree in Government and History from the University of Maryland, University College campus in Berlin, Germany.

Kevin served as a military officer in both the US Army and US Navy. After his military service, he practiced law in Iowa, Colorado and then California. He retired from his law practice representing Santa Barbara County after thirty years.

He hand his wife Olga have lived in rural Santa Barbara for many years. He has three sons and a daughter. Life is good.