I have read all of Melinda Clayton’s books, unsolicited, and have never been disappointed. With her latest endeavor, Clayton has left the backwoods hills of Appalachia and explores a somewhat bizarre (nonsexual) ménage à trois between a young married couple and their friend from college.
In 1980s Memphis, we meet bookish Phil and jock Brian, roommates who befriend smart and beautiful Anna. She’s more Brian’s type but has a stronger interest in Phil. After college, the three share an apartment and are the best of friends. Phil and Anna eventually marry and move northward to settle into their professional lives. Brian becomes a lawyer and keeps close ties with his friends. But when the couple faces a series of obstacles when it comes to having children, this wholesome all-American story gets turned upside down.
This may sound like the beginning of a Nicholas Sparks novel, but only had he written Peyton Place! From the first chapter, Clayton grabs her reader’s attention with only the smallest of cliffhanging details – Phil is in prison for the murder of Anna! No worries – I haven’t even scratched the surface and will not give away any spoilers.
As Clayton peels away the layers of the couple’s marriage and their friendship with Brian, deep dark secrets are revealed, ultimately satisfying the reader’s questions that have been piling up since page one. The book moves at a nice evenly, but non-linear pace, as Clayton switches back and forth between the past and the present, constantly filling in gaps in the story but continuously leading you along begging for answers.
Clayton is a licensed psychotherapist in two states, and she puts her expertise to good use in her writing. All of her books dive deep into that no-holds-barred type literature that picks at the psyche and exposes the human condition, but gives us slice-of-life characters that anyone can relate to. Blessed Are The Wholly Broken is no different, but is a nice present day change of pace compared to her Appalachia trilogy. I can’t wait to read what she does next!