(21. - 1093.) Hurry Home by Roz Nay - The Floyd family lives in a dirty rundown home. It is a stinking mess. Frank and Evelyn are probably abusing drugs. There is little food in the house. They have a 1 year old child, Buster, who is distinctly not thriving. It is doubtful he is being fed properly or having his diaper changed regularly or getting attention. Yet there is little direct evidence of abuse or neglect.
I read many reports of such families as a young lawyer dealing with Family Service cases. What is the minimal standard of child care before apprehending a child? What are the minimun objective criteria for parenting? Not the best care but the least care before intervention.
Alexandra (Alex) Van Ness is a young social worker doing her best to save children. She would have taken Buster during that visit. Alex has a zeal for saving children. While admirable there is a righteousness about her that is ill-suited to assisting struggling parents. Many cases are not as clear as she would make them.
Her senior co-worker, Minerva, does not want to take action. She sees the Floyd family as in need of supports concerning the basics of parenting. She also recognizes that they do not have enough evidence to remove Buster.
Alex lives with Chase, a male model / former ski racer / resort representative in his trendy condo in Moses Springs, Colorado. He is an uncomplicated guy focused on living and eating healthy and spending limited time thinking.
Her older sister, Ruth, arrives. Alex has not seen her in 10 years. Some vestige of family compels Alex to let Ruth stay with her and Chase.
It is less than subtle irony that Ruth, with a chaotic even criminal past, who is now pregnant seeks refuge with Alex, the child protection worker.
Their family life back on the farm in Horizon, North Dakota is revealed slowly, almost agonizingly slowly. When there is a sudden full revelation the reality of their past is as painful as any fiction I have read in some time. Having grown up on a farm it was all too vivid.
Everything is about their minds. Dark minds. Alex and Ruth brood about the terrible tragedy on the farm. And what I thought I knew about the sisters is turned upside down in one paragraph. It caught me so off guard I had to go back to make sure I had not forgotten what was said earlier.
Responsibility and manipulation and control are at the heart of the book. What will sisters do for and against each other?
The pace accelerates and I raced to the end. Hurry Home is the first book in the 2021 shortlist for the Best Crime Fiction Novel in the Crime Writers of Canada Awards of Excellence. It is well worthy of the shortlist.