About the Book:
Mary Catherine Whelihan made it out of Walkerville alive once before. Can she pull it off this time? Bullies, sexual harassment, finding a corpse in the local creek…. Cate’s childhood in 1980s Walkerville was murder! So what could possibly tempt her to return? A cryptic email from Eugene Marcasian, MD, her grade school crush, might do the trick. Can Cate and Gene find the cause of the mysterious illness afflicting nearly all of the girls in their graduating class, including Cate herself? Or will corporate bullies continue to take down anyone who gets in their way? More importantly, can Cate stay alive long enough to get one more slice of tomato pie?
Not too far into this book there was a mention of health problems being treated by birth control pills. A bit later there was a reference to something causing health problems in a bunch of women. Considering where I got this book (Full Quiver Publishers) I rolled my eyes and figured I was about to quit reading some diatribe about birth control pills causing all sorts of health problems. I was wrong. Birth control pills are not the villain in the story, though a drug company is.
There were a lot of things I liked about the book. I really related to Mary Catherine. She was a very bright girl who never fit into her home town. She's the girl the other kids picked on, the one who had few if any real friends, the one who left town and never looked back. She never realized why the other kids didn't like her but on this trip back one girl does tell her--and yes, I could see that in myself as well. If a characteristic of a good writer is getting readers to see themselves in characters, Erin Cupp nailed me in Mary Catherine.
Cate now has good friends and a satisfying life, and she has never had any desire to return to her hometown. However, as noted above, her grade school crush, who also never quite fit in with the others, piques her interest and when a principal who took Cate under her wings dies unexpectedly, Cate returns to her hometown to face her past. She and Gene set out to learn not only why the principal died but also why so many of their classmates suffer from reproductive ills.
I'm not really a mystery/thriller kind of reader and when I do read them they tend to have a religions bent. I often say they seem unrealistic, and yes, this one does too, but it was a good, well-written read.
It is Catholic fiction. One problem I have with it is that Gene mentions that his sister began suffering with gynecological ills and the doctor, going against their faith, prescribed birth control pills. That is, from everything I've read, an inaccurate statement of Catholic teaching on birth control pills. If his sister was celibate, there is absolutely no problem with taking birth control pills. If she was not, and she was taking them for some medical reason other than contraception, they are still allowed. Whether the pills are the best or an appropriate treatment for a particular problem is a discussion I'll leave to those more knowledgeable than I am.
Other than that line, I found the religious elements well integrated into the story. Cate is a fallen-away Catholic who during the course of this story sees true faith in action. She also sees folks who are in church every week who are almost as fallen-away as she is. Cate does not suddenly return to the Church of her youth as a result of events of the book. Gene gives a great example of someone who has clung to his faith even though it could be hard at times.
One thing I did not like about the book is that the ending is clearly a set-up for another book. This story is told, there is a satisfying ending, and then we learn about another bad guy out there watching Cate. I have no problem with series books. I have no problem with reusing characters. I don't even have a problem with including a teaser chapter for your next book at the back of this one. I don't like it at all when books end with cliff-hangers.
I'd like to thank the publisher for providing a complimentary review copy. Grade: B.