At the Center

(Apprentice House, 2015)
The dangers of secrets, the power of belonging and how much bravery it takes to finally close the distance between who we pretend to be and who we really are.

At the Center begins in 2005 when seven-year-old Anthony Little Eagle falls to his death on the concrete patio beneath the balcony of his foster home. The police decide that his death was a tragic accident but foster care supervisor Sylvia Jensen suspects foul play. She forms an unlikely alliance with investigative reporter J.B. Harrell, and together they risk their careers and their lives to find the truth. Interspersed with their story is the 1972 story of seven-year-old Jamie Buckley who lives in a foster home where he is loved and cherished until his birth parent’s questions lead the child welfare system to intervene and Mary Williams must fight to keep her foster son Jamie against a system that seeks to tear her family apart.

The stories of two seven-year-old boys in At the Center are intertwined with the secrets and personal demons of the families and the foster care and social workers that shape their lives. From the stark poverty of American Indian reservations to the hidden dangers of affluent suburbia, two people unlock the mysteries of their own pasts in order to bring a killer to justice. For more, click here.

Just Mercy

(Apprentice House, 2014)
Just Mercy
A heart-wrenching and ultimately redemptive family drama of forgiveness, destiny and the true nature of justice

What would you do if your child was murdered? What lengths would you go to for justice?

These are the questions at the heart of Dorothy Van Soest’s stirring novel Just Mercy.

Bernadette Baker lives through every mother’s worst nightmare when her adopted sixteen-year-old daughter, Veronica, is brutally murdered by a deranged stranger. The shocking and random act of violence sets off a chain of events that causes Bernadette’s family to face unimaginable pain and question everything they hold dear. Ten years later Veronica’s killer, Raelynn Blackwell, is facing execution. Despite being united in their grief over Veronica, the Baker family is deeply divided about the death penalty. On one side is Veronica’s deeply spiritual and sensitive brother who believes that the death penalty is the last thing his baby sister would have wanted. On the opposite side is their tough-as-nails older sister who vehemently believes that death is the only way for justice to be served. In the center is Bernadette, who is deeply ambivalent and longs for a resolution that will help her family move forward.

After Raelynn receives a last-minute stay of execution, a secret is revealed that changes everything and leads to an unlikely bond between Raelynn and Bernadette. For more, click here.