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All God’s Children is the second book in the Grace McDonald series by the new author Susan Kraus (I have already reviewed her first book, Fall From Grace here).
In the first book, Grace went through a major ordeal in her life. She was a psychiatrist/therapist, and one of her cases came back to bite her big time. In the process she lost her husband, her reputation and almost lost her freedom as well.
The second book starts a few years after the first one ended. Her two children, Molly and Alex are adults. Molly is back in town, with a small child, Max, and no sign of a husband. The child is autistic and suffers from Asperger’s, so Molly has more than her hands full with raising him. She needs help, and she needs her mother badly.
So Grace sold her business in Alaska and came back to Kansas to help Molly her very difficult grandchild. Now the two women and Max are living together as a family. Grace has opened shop again, and not only went back to being a therapist, but also being a mediator in divorce cases. And this is where the story picks up again.
Grace is juggling several cases, some more interesting than others. The author gives us full details to her more important cases, and even though the whole book plays out more like drama rather than mystery, I found myself fully engaged with each of the families going through the trials and tribulations of divorce.
I always enjoyed reading about some of the interesting ways Grace manages to not only bring peace among the family members who usually end up hating each other (a divorce does that to a person), but also solve some very tricky situations. The author’s background definitely shines through these details that only someone who has worked in the field would really know.
Grace’s most interesting (and scary) case in this book evolved around the infamous Phelps family. Now truth to be told, I was not aware that this family in fact exists in real life. I though they’re a horrible fiction. Having read one of the book reviews at Amazon, I’ve learned that it’s indeed a family that lives in the US and it could be indeed the most hated family in the country.
In the book Grace had to deal with a very strange and taxing case. Becca, a Phelps family member had a child with a Hispanic young man, Mike, some years ago. When she realized she was pregnant, she cut off all ties with Mike, and she never told him about the existence of the child.
David, the 11 year old kid is now living happily as a member of the Phelps family. Mike, who recently came back as a war veteran, learned about the existence of the child and contacted Grace to mediate regarding his parental rights, to which he had no access for all these years.
Grace is fully aware of how difficult this case is, afterall the picketing Phelps are a very tough bunch, most of them lawyers who know to twist the laws according to their own strong will. But she has no choice but to take the job and do the best she can with it.
From here starts a very consuming drama involving all of them – Becca, Mike, Becca’s husband, and especially David, the innocent child. Everyone wants a piece of him, and the decisions involved will change all of their lives entirely.
I mentioned before that this books is not so much a mystery, as it is a family (ies) drama. There was no murder in the book at all, and the only crime committed happened at around 78% in the book (as the Kindle app told me). Yet the suspense was all there, right from the start.
I am usually not a major fan of drama novels (or movies), but this book got to me in a strong way, bringing out some deep hidden emotions within me. I’m divorced (and happily married for a second time as well), so some things really came to the surface here for me.
The characters are nicely fleshed out, just as in the first book. Grace, Molly and Max are living together and have their problems day in day out. Max is indeed a difficult child and living with autism and Asperger’s is not a walk in the park. Pity though that they haven’t heard of Kerri Rivera’s CD protocol for autistic children, I bet that could have helped Max a great deal.
Overall I loved this second book as much as the first one. I am now looking forward to reading the first book and following Grace along her journey to finding herself again and coming to terms with her new life. I was glad to read that she has become a strong woman who can stand on her two feet and fight for what she thinks it’s right.