The story is told in three parts. The first part is about Allard and Edward Keer, young brothers exploring their surroundings in a rural community of New Hampshire. They imagine a future working together, at the helm of a film company and dream of being able to ice skate all the way to Canada. They are really nice young men with all the right wholesome values. They love the outdoors and appreciate its majesty. One day, when 14 year old Allard and 16 year old Edward were out ice skating, they rescued a young girl and her dog from the frozen river. The ice had cracked, and both had fallen through into the icy water. They were stuck, unable to climb out as the ice around them continued to crack and slip away every time they tried to gain purchase. The girl refused to leave her dog, even as the current threatened to force her out further and deeper into the water. Edward tied a rope to Allard, the lighter of the two brothers and they proceeded to rescue both the dog, Natasha, and the girl, Sara Patrick. From the moment Sara looked at Allard, she was smitten. Allard couldn’t explain what he was feeling, but he was captivated by her, as well. It was kismet, but they were very young and didn’t really recognize their emotions, although everyone around them understood the chemistry between them. Over the years, the friendship and bond joining the three of them grew stronger and stronger. They were practically inseparable, planning their futures together, hoping to start the Barnes River Film Company as soon as they were old enough and finished their education. When Allard and Sara realized that they were in love, they planned to be married. Ed decided to take Allard on a bachelor trip, hiking in Wyoming. This trip was a turning point which changed the direction of their lives.
Part two is the weakest section of the three parts. It is about Allard as he pursues his future working with Morgan Davis, a well known documentary film producer who was Ed’s mentor. When Morgan approaches him and offers him a job filming a documentary on Narwhals, he recognizes it as a great opportunity, but although he will be in charge, Morgan wants him to work with Sara Patrick as the writer. She has published books and has achieved respect in her field. Some two years have passed since his trip with his brother, and in all that time he has not seen Sara. Morgan is wondering if he will be able to work with her. Actually, it turned out that they were able to work well together and the joint effort was successful. At the end, before they parted ways again, Sara asked Allard to return to his home to see his parents. He had not seen them either, since his trip with Edward.
Part three is about his return home. He brings an injured Clydesdale horse, Billy, home with him. Young children had tortured and blinded Billy with acid and Morgan’s wife Gloria had rescued him and nursed him back to health. Allard knew his mom loved animals and would not mind his caring for Billy.
After they reunite, Allard and his father plan to build a cabin together where Allard will live when he is not working and traveling. A stall for Billy is set up in the barn. When Sara returns to her parent’s home over Thanksgiving, Allard discovers she is engaged. All of a sudden, Allard has a lot to deal with, in addition to readjusting to his parents and his former way of life, he must now adjust to the possibility of losing Sara, once and for all. As Allard continues to tell the rest of the story, the reader will be emotionally tossed and turned with him as he struggles to find a way back to his former life by going forward instead of holding on to the past.
The tale was told so lyrically that it was like reading a poem, or in my case, since it was an audio book, listening to one. The reader sometimes droned, but for the most part, he was serious and contemplative in his tone, and it was perfect for the story. The author’s writing style is so engaging that it will be difficult to put the book down once begun.
This tender coming of age story about three beautifully innocent and bright young people who experience a shared tragedy and suffer the consequences, each in their own way, will show the reader how they dealt with the loss and the pain of separation. The book offers a kind and compassionate view of their attitudes toward each other, rather than a vengeful one, no matter what happens to them. The characters are well developed and easy to relate to as they interact with a kind of naïve honesty that is refreshing and rare. Although the ending was a bit like a fairy tale, it seemed perfect to me. The moral of the story is simple. Although you can almost never go back, you can certainly always go forward. Hope springs eternal.
I found the cover of the book to be a bit juvenile, and I hope that it doesn’t turn off any readers because the message of forgiveness, kindness and love, in the face of all of life’s challenges, is really a thing of beauty in this book. In the end, we all have to come to terms with what life dishes out to us, in one way or another. Wouldn’t it be better to do it with a positive approach? Allard must come to terms with his guilt in order for him to face his future. The book is by turns heartbreaking and uplifting. The pace of the story is perfect and will keep the reader’s attention completely.
I wish a review I read had not revealed the fact that there was a tragedy, because once I knew something horrible was going to happen I kept waiting for it, and then it was an anticlimax when it did. As he did in other books he has written, the author presented a beautiful image of the world in all its natural glory. There is definitely an appreciation for animals, plants, mountains, and bodies of water and a message to preserve and protect all that has been given us freely by nature.