When Carly Sears, a young woman widowed by the Vietnam war, receives the news that her unborn baby girl has a heart defect, she is devastated. It is 1970, and she is told that nothing can be done to help her child. But her brother-in-law, a physicist with a mysterious past, tells her that perhaps there is a way to save her baby. What he suggests is something that will shatter every preconceived notion that Carly has. Something that will require a kind of strength and courage she never knew existed. Something that will mean an unimaginable leap of faith on Carly’s part.
And all for the love of her unborn child.
*I received an advanced reader’s copy of this book for review via the publisher, St. Martins Press and as a She Speaks Up Ambassador*
Never judge a book by its cover!
Well, that’s exactly what I did when I received The Dream Daughter; the poem on the cover spoke to me as I am always longing for my daughter to return, reminiscing the past, striving to make the best memories when I do have her.
That is what I thought the book was more aligned to admittedly. What a roller coaster of emotions! I went into this with eyes wide open without reading the synopsis, besides the poem obviously.
By about the seventh page I had gleaned the very first twist in the novel; could this be intertwined with science fiction? Hmmmm.
We start off with Caroline (Carly) Grant (soon to be Mrs. Sears though), a physical therapist stateside in Chapel Hill, NC during the Vietnam War, where she meets her first patient, Hunter Poole. After befriending each other, Carly hooks him up with her sister, Patti, the story-line does a quick fast forward to when Patti and Hunter have already had a child, John Paul, and Carly finds out she is pregnant right before receiving word that her husband, Joe, was killed in Vietnam.
The building up of Carly and her self-relationship as a widow was beautifully written as it also links with the desperation of knowing her unborn child would not live after birth due to her heart defect. This is an emotional novel that touched my heart, but the writing was still light enough due to the twists of science fiction.
*** SPOILER ALERT ***
Yes, from 1970 to 1981, where Carly meets Hunter’s mother, Myra Poole, who runs a secret company that works in time travel after having found the way and how to do it; that part did kind of put me off a bit. Not really sensational thinking in my opinion, just kind of a ill-thought-out how it happened. But, back to the story!
Carly meets a teenage Hunter while Myra is helping set her up in New York for the medical care she will need for her unborn child, Joanna. After Carly has invasive surgery to correct the unborn Joanna’s heart valves she must heal and start mapping her way back to 1970 using the windows of opportunity Hunter gave her.
After Joanna is born she has to stay in intensive care unit’s due to her heart’s complications and various fever onsets with infections which throws the timeline for Carly to be able to take her back home off obviously.
With that she takes the last window she can back to 1970 without Joanna whom she had to leave in the care unit due to her health.
She has Hunter give her windows back to New York City for the day after…… Which didn’t dawn on him until after she left.
Needless to say, she did not make it to September 11, 2001 in NYC and was jetted forward further in time to 2013 where she hunts down Myra to help her again and ultimately, Joanna, her now 12 year old daughter who had been adopted after Carly disappeared on that fateful night September 10, 2001.
After stalking Joanna and befriending not only her, but her adoptive parents she realizes her husband was truly never KIA, just MIA and ended up being a POW released in 1973. With a gut wrenching good bye in which she told a disbelieving Joanna everything about her being her mother and time travel, she travel back to 1970 alone.
After waiting anxiously for her husband’s release in 1973, they have a family and grow older and wiser together with Carly never forgetting Joanna through the decades.
2022 Epilogue closes with Joanna coming of age and searching for Carly, her mother, and becoming mother and daughter once and for all.
As stated before, a roller coaster of emotions from the unborn child aspect, to degenerative heart defects, to a vast unknown, finding your strength as a mother, flying into the unknown, the gut wrenching moments you missed in your child’s life, and the touching points of September 11th, 2001.
I am writing this review on September 11, 2018.
About The Author
Diane Chamberlain is the New York Times, USA Today and Sunday Times bestselling author of 26 novels published in more than twenty languages. Her most recent novel is The Dream Daughter. Some of her most popular books include Necessary Lies, The Silent Sister, The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes, and The Keeper of the Light Trilogy. Diane likes to write complex stories about relationships between men and women, parents and children, brothers and sisters, and friends. Although the thematic focus of her books often revolves around family, love, compassion and forgiveness, her stories usually feature a combination of drama, mystery, secrets and intrigue. Diane’s background in psychology has given her a keen interest in understanding the way people tick, as well as the background necessary to create her realistic characters.
Diane was born and raised in Plainfield, New Jersey and spent her summers at the Jersey Shore. She also lived for many years in San Diego and northern Virginia before making North Carolina her home.
Diane received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in clinical social work from San Diego State University. Prior to her writing career, Diane worked in hospitals in San Diego and Washington, D.C. before opening a private psychotherapy practice in Alexandria Virginia specializing in adolescents. All the while Diane was writing on the side. Her first book, Private Relations was published in 1989 and it earned the RITA award for Best Single Title Contemporary Novel.
Diane lives with her partner, photographer John Pagliuca, and her sheltie, Cole. She has three stepdaughters, two sons-in-law, and four grandchildren. She’s currently at work on her next novel.
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