Tragedy of any kind leads one to pause and take an inventory of what's most important in life. And, most often, the one aspect considered to be of insurmountable value is that of family. In The Year That Follows, Scott Lasser draws the reader into the life of a single mother, Cat, living in Detroit, who, in the wake of the unimaginable disaster of 9/11, discovers that her brother is gone forever. Lasser's dramatic story is one that most Americans can relate to whether or not they had an immediate family member or a friend lose their life on that fateful day. This book uncovers how the lives of this particular family, already struggling for closeness, are sadly scrambled after 9/11. Then Lasser cleverly reveals what it takes to draw them together. Following the death of her brother, Cat embarks on a quest to determine how she will make her family whole and complete again. Along the way, visions from the past are woven into the present to make a difference in the future of this family.
Circumstances have kept Cat from being as successful as her brother Kyle believes she could be. When she unexpectedly got pregnant early in her career, her focus became her little boy, Connor. Connor's dad, Michael, is in the picture and is a part of Connor's life, but he is not the committing type. Then there is Cat's father, Sam, who lives with "ghosts" from his own past and who raised Kyle and Cat alone after their mother committed suicide. Cat carried a certain sadness with her, but Kyle was determined to change his life and not look back, except for caring for his sister. He completed college and moved to New York, where he became a very successful stock broker. Most of the time, he didn't slow down for more than a moment to enjoy family life.
However, as he nears his mid-40s, he begins to think about family. Upon over-hearing that his ex-girlfriend, Siobhan, had recently given birth to a little boy, he is positive that the child is his son and he needs to confront Siobhan and make decisions about settling down. When Kyle finds out that Cat is struggling financially, he offers to fly her to New York for a visit and to provide a little monetary assistance. More so, however, he wants to get her opinion on what to do about Siobhan and the baby. Who knows? Perhaps he can make a go of things with Siobhan and his son and create his own family, one that will supersede that of his childhood and satisfy the longing he has for that something special that bonds a family together forever.
This compelling account of a family in search of wholeness and completeness is catapulted when, barely a day after Kyle confides in Cat about his baby boy, he is killed in one of the Towers on 9/11. Struggling to accept the loss of her brother, Cat is further shaken to learn that Siobhan is also believed to have died in the attack. Cat then embarks on an extraordinary search to find her brother's child and make him part of her family, to keep a part of Kyle alive in their lives. This search takes time, and Cat's life changes dramatically in the year following the loss of her brother. She learns more about her father, the loss of her mother, and even more about herself.
She also discovers what kind of life she wants and the legacy she wants to leave her son. Cat's quest to bring Kyle's son home and raise him as her own helps her create the close-knit family that she and her brother always yearned for. Along the way she reunites with an ex-boyfriend who has become a lawyer and can help her make her dream a reality. Excitement and interest escalate as Cat gets closer to bringing her brother's son home. However, there is an unexpected, yet deeply heartwarming twist nearing the conclusion of the story, which will no doubt reach into your core and pull at your heartstrings. With gifted writing, Lasser helps the reader experience Cat's revelations about the true meaning of family and how family bonds cannot be broken no matter distance or death.
The Year that Follows is one well worth reading. It's a quick uplifting book that I had trouble putting down. Scott Lasser's characters are genuine and I very much liked his writing style.
Recommended by Cathy Lee