The Long Road Home

( 71 )


Bestselling novelist Danielle Steel takes us on a harrowing journey into the heart of America's hidden shame in a novel that explores the power of forgiveness, the dark side of childhood, and one woman's unbreakable spirit.

From her secret perch at the top of the stairs, Gabriella Harrison watches the guests arrive at her parents' lavish Manhattan townhouse.  At seven, she knows she is an intruder in her parents' party, in her parents' life.  But she can't ...

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Bestselling novelist Danielle Steel takes us on a harrowing journey into the heart of America's hidden shame in a novel that explores the power of forgiveness, the dark side of childhood, and one woman's unbreakable spirit.

From her secret perch at the top of the stairs, Gabriella Harrison watches the guests arrive at her parents' lavish Manhattan townhouse.  At seven, she knows she is an intruder in her parents' party, in her parents' life.  But she can't resist the magic.  Later, she waits for the click, click, click of her mother's high heels, the angry words, and the pain that will follow.  Gabriella already knows to hide her bruises, certain she is to blame for her mother's rage—and her father's failure to protect her.  Her world is a confusing blend of terror, betrayal, and pain.  Her parents' aristocratic world is no safeguard against the abuse that knows no boundaries, respects no person, no economic lines.  Gabriella knows that, try as she might, there is no safe place for her to hide.

Even as a child, her only escape is through the stories she writes.  Only writing can dull the pain of her lonely world.  And when her parents' marriage collapses, Gabriella is given her first reprieve, as her father disappears, and then her mother abandons her to a convent.  There, Gabriella's battered body and soul begin to mend.  Amid the quiet safety and hushed rituals of the nuns, Gabriella grows into womanhood in a safe, peaceful world.  Then a young priest comes into her life.  

Father Joe Connors never questioned his vocation until Gabriella entered the confessional and shared her soul.  Confession leads to friendship.  And friendship grows dangerously into love.  Like Gabriella, Joe is haunted by the pain of his childhood, consumed by guilt over a family tragedy, for which he blames himself.  With Gabriella, Joe takes the first steps toward healing.  But their relationship leads to tragedy as Joe must choose between the priesthood and Gabriella, and life in the real world where he fears he does not belong, and cannot cope.

Exiled and disgraced, and nearly destroyed, Gabriella struggles to survive on her own in New York.  There she seeks healing and escape through her writing again, this time as an adult, and her life as a writer begins.  But just when she thinks she is beyond hurt, Gabriella is once again betrayed by someone she trusts.  Brought to the edge of despair, physically attacked beyond recognition and belief, haunted by abuse in her present and her past, she nonetheless manages to find hope again, and the courage to face the past.  On a pilgrimage destined to bring her face-to-face with those who sought to destroy her in her early life, she finds forgiveness, freedom from guilt, and healing from abuse.  When Gabriella faces what was done to her, and why, she herself is free at last.  

With profound insight, Danielle Steel has created a vivid portrait of an abused child's broken world, and the courage necessary to face it and free herself from the past.  A work of daring and compassion, a tale of healing that will shock and touch and move you to your very soul, it exposes the terror of child abuse, and opens the doors on a subject that affects us all.  The Long Road Home is more than riveting fiction.  It is an inspiration to us all.  A work of courage, hope, and love.

Gabriella Harrison, who has suffered abuse at the hands of her wealthy parents and has found peace in a convent, meets Father Joe Connors, who is haunted by the pain of his own childhood. There friendship grows dangerously into love and leads to disaster.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Scandal, betrayal and treachery do little to animate this dreary saga from the prolific Steel (The Ghost). By the time she's six, Gabriella Harrison has known nothing but torture at the hands of her battering mother, Eloise, a socialite who hates childrenespecially her own. Gabbie's alcoholic father is incapable of dealing with the madness that rules the mansion and soon escapes with another woman. Then Eloise decides she's tired of mothering and abandons 10-year-old Gabbie at St. Matthew's convent. Gabbie blossoms at the nunnery, where she finds unconditional love from the sisters, a talent for writing and, later, illicit passion in the arms of a priest. When discovered, the affair leads to the priest's suicide and Gabbie's eviction from the convent. Always one to make lemonade of life's lemons, however, Gabbie assuages her grief with new friends, a new lover and her burgeoning talent as a writer. Still, tragedy tails her like a lost puppy, and her monstrous mother casts a long shadow over her triumphs. Steel's latest attempt at a redemption story falls flat because of repetitious prose and two-dimensional characters. The inevitable happy ending, when it finally arrives, can't make up for a plodding narrative lacking in any real suspense. (May)
Kirkus Reviews
Steel (The Ranch, 1997, etc.) actually manages to minimize child abuse in this saccharine take on tragedy. Poor little Gabbie is not only a victim. She is the Victim's Victim. Her wealthy mother Eloise feels jealous of her: She abuses Gabbie almost daily for the first decade of her life. She starves her, smashes her dolls, and breaks her ribs every Christmas. She bruises her kidneys and cuts up her face. But Gabbie's emotional wounds are even worse, for Eloise has persuaded her that everything wrong with the family is her fault. Meanwhile, Gabbie's father is a prodigious weakling who drinks to forget his terrible home life, eventually deserting both daughter and wife. In what is probably an act of mercy, Gabbie's mother runs off with another man and abandons the girl at a Manhattan convent. To protect herself from a malevolent world, Gabbie decides to become a nun. But the world has other plans for this girl whose tribulations make those of Job look like chopped liver. She falls in love with a priest and becomes pregnant (after all, what do priests know about condoms?). The priest then commits suicide; after a painful miscarriage, Gabbie almost dies. To top it off, the church forces her out of the convent with only $500 and two badly tailored dresses to her name. She's seduced by a con man, then robbed and beaten within an inch of her life. At this point, Gabbie decides to be a victim no longer. She tries to find her mother, visits her father, and conveniently meets a nice young doctor. After her bruises heal, the physician (unsurprisingly) falls in love with her. Steel goes to battle with yet another worthy cause, but her good intentions this time fizzle in a sea ofber-melodrama.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780440224839
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 3/28/1999
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 448
  • Sales rank: 156,940
  • Product dimensions: 4.16 (w) x 6.86 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Danielle Steel

Danielle Steel has been hailed as one of the world's most popular authors, with over 370 million copies of her novels sold.  Her many international bestsellers include: The Ghost, Special Delivery, The Ranch, Silent Honor, Malice, Five Days in Paris, Lightning, Wings, The Gift, Accident, Vanished, Mixed Blessings, and other highly acclaimed novels.

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    1. Hometown:
      San Francisco, California
    1. Date of Birth:
      August 14, 1947
    2. Place of Birth:
      New York, New York
    1. Education:
      Educated in France. Also attended Parsons School of Design, 1963, and New York University, 1963-67
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

Eloise had been pretty then, and young, something of a beauty, and there was a coolness about her that drove him into a frenzy. He begged, he pleaded, he courted, he wanted desperately to marry her, and the more he pursued her, the more aloof she was. It took him almost two years to convince her to become his wife. He had wanted children almost immediately, had bought her a lovely house, and he was so proud of her he almost crowed every time he introduced her. But it took him nearly another two years to convince her to have a baby. She always said she needed more time. And although she never said it openly, having children wasn't really what she wanted. Her own childhood had been so unpleasant, she wasn't particularly attracted to the idea of having children. But it meant so much to John, that eventually she relented. And regretted it almost immediately after. She had a difficult pregnancy, was violently ill almost to the very end, and the delivery was a horror she knew she would never repeat and always remember. In Eloise's mind, despite the adorable pink bundle they placed in her arms the next day, it simply wasn't worth it. And it annoyed her right from the first to see how much attention John lavished on the baby. It was the kind of passion he had once had for her, and suddenly all he seemed to think about was Gabriella . . . was she warm enough . . . was she cold . . . had she eaten . . . had someone just changed her diaper . . . had Eloise seen how sweet she looked when she smiled. . . . He thought it was remarkable how much she looked like his mother. Just listening to him, Eloise wanted to scream every time she saw her daughter.

Shewent back to her own activities rapidly, shopping, going to tea parties in the afternoon, and having lunch with friends. And more than ever, she wanted to go out every evening. She had absolutely no interest in the baby. She admitted to several of the women she played bridge with on Wednesday afternoons, that she found the child incredibly boring and quite repulsive. And the way she said it always amused them. She was so outspoken they thought it was funny. If anything, she was less maternal than she had ever been. But John was convinced she would come to it slowly. Some people just weren't good with babies, he told himself, each time he saw her with Gabriella. She was still very young, she was twenty-four, and very beautiful. He was sure that when the baby started doing more interesting things, she would rapidly conquer her mother. But that day never came, not for Eloise, or for Gabriella. In fact, when Gabriella started crawling everywhere, pulling at things, standing up next to the cocktail table and throwing ashtrays on the floor, she nearly drove her mother crazy.

"My God . . . look at the mess that child makes . . . she's constantly knocking things down and breaking things, and some part of her is always dirty. . . ."

"She's just a baby, El . . ." he said gently, scooping Gabriella up into his arms and hugging her, and then blowing raspberries on her belly.

"Stop that, that's disgusting!" Eloise said sternly, looking at him in revulsion. Unlike John, Eloise hardly ever touched her. A nurse they had early on had figured it all out easily and shared her thoughts with the baby's father. She said that Eloise was jealous of the baby. It sounded ridiculous to John, but in time even he began to wonder. Every time he talked to the child, or picked her up, Eloise got angry. And by the time Gabriella was two years old, Eloise slapped her hands every time she reached out to touch something in their living room or their bedroom. She thought Gabriella should be confined to the nursery, and said so.

"We can't lock her up in there," John objected when he found her in her room, whenever he came home from the office.

"She destroys everything," Eloise would answer, as usual looking angry. But she was even more so when John commented on what pretty hair Gabriella had, what lovely curls. It was the next day that Gabriella got her first haircut. Eloise took her to Best and Co. with the nurse, and when they returned, the curls had vanished. And when John expressed surprise, Eloise explained that having her hair cut was healthy for her.

The rivalry began in earnest when Gabriella spoke in sentences and would run down the hall squealing to see her father. Sensing danger near at hand, she generally steered a wide berth around her mother. Eloise could barely contain herself while she watched John play with her, and when he finally began criticizing Eloise for how little time she spent with the child, a chasm began to grow between Eloise and her husband. She was sick of hearing him whine at her about the baby. She thought it was unmanly, and frankly disgusting.

Gabriella's first beating occurred when she was three, on a morning when she accidentally knocked a plate off the breakfast table and broke it. Eloise had been sitting uneasily beside her, drinking her morning coffee. And without hesitating, the instant the plate fell, she reached over and slapped her.

"Don't ever do that again . . . do you understand?" Gabriella had simply stared at her, her eyes filled with tears, her face a mask of shock and sorrow. "Did you hear me?" she shouted at the child again. Her curls had reappeared by then, and the huge blue eyes stared back in confusion at her mother. "Answer me!"

"I sorry, Mommy. . . ." John had just entered the room and saw what was happening with disbelief, but he was so shocked, he did nothing to stop it. He was afraid to interfere, and make things worse. He had never seen Eloise so angry. Three years of anger, jealousy, and frustration were erupting from within, like a long-overdue volcano.

"If you ever do that again, Gabriella, I'll spank you!" Eloise said ominously, shaking the child by both arms until her teeth shook. "You're a very, very naughty girl, and no one likes naughty children." Gabriella glanced from her mother's face suffused with rage, to her father standing in the doorway, but he said nothing. He was afraid to. And as soon as Eloise was aware of him, she scooped the child up in her arms, and took her back to her room, and left her there, without her breakfast. She gave her a sharp slap on her bottom before she left. Gabriella was lying on her bed, whimpering, when her mother left her to go back to breakfast.

"You didn't have to do that," John said quietly when Eloise came back to the breakfast table for another cup of coffee. He could see that her hands were shaking, and she still looked angry.

"If I don't, you'll wind up with a juvenile delinquent on your hands one day. Discipline is good for children." His own parents had been kind to him, and he was still startled by Eloise's reaction. But he was also well aware that their daughter made her extremely nervous. Eloise had never been quite the same since Gabriella was born, and nowadays she was always angry at him about something. His hopes for a large, happy family had long since vanished.

"I don't know what she did to upset you, but it couldn't have been that awful," he said calmly.

"She threw a plate on the floor intentionally, and broke it. I'm not going to put up with tantrums!" Eloise said sharply.

"Maybe it was an accident," he said, trying to mollify her, and succeeding only in making the situation worse. There was nothing he could ever say to defend their daughter. Eloise simply did not want to hear it.

"Disciplining Gabriella is up to me," Eloise said through clenched teeth. "I don't tell you how to run your office," she said, and then left the table.

Within six months, "disciplining" Gabriella became a full-time job for her mother. There was always some fresh crime she had committed that required a slap, a spanking, or a beating. Playing in the garden and getting grass stains on her knees, playing with the neighbors' cat and getting her arm scratched, or her dress dirty, falling on the street and scraping her knees and getting blood all over her dress and socks was a particularly heinous offense that cost her her most serious beating to date, just before her fourth birthday. John knew of the beatings, and saw it happen many times, but he thought there was nothing he could do to stop Eloise, and even comforting the child afterward made it worse, and it became simpler to accept Eloise's explanations of why she had to beat, slap, or spank her. In the end, he decided it was best to say nothing, and he tried not to think about what was happening to their daughter. He tried to tell himself that maybe Eloise was right. He didn't know. Maybe discipline was good for children, if she said so.

His parents had died in an auto accident and there was no one he could talk to, no one he would have dared tell what Eloise did to Gabriella.

Gabriella was certainly a model child, she barely spoke, cleared the table carefully, folded her clothes neatly in her room, did everything she was told, and never answered back to her mother. Maybe Eloise was right. The results were certainly impressive. And when she sat at dinner with them, her eyes were huge in her face, and she remained completely silent. It was only unfortunate that her father came to mistake terror for good manners.

But in Eloise's less generous eyes, Gabriella always fell far short of perfection. There was always something more to scold her about, punish her for, or a new reason to give her a "spanking." Eventually the spankings became longer and more frequent, the slaps seemed to punctuate every exchange between them, the shakings, the sharp blows, the resounding slaps to every part of her body. There were times when John feared that Eloise might seriously hurt Gabriella, but he kept his comments to himself about the way his wife was bringing up their daughter. To him, it appeared that discretion was the better part of valor, and he did his best to convince himself that what she was doing wasn't wrong, and he was careful never to see the bruises. According to Eloise, the child fell constantly, and was so awkward they couldn't let her ride a bike or learn to roller-skate. The deprivations her mother inflicted on her were clearly for her own protection, the bruises a sign that she was as clumsy as Eloise declared her.

And by her sixth birthday, Gabriella's beatings had become a habit, for all of them. John avoided them, Gabriella expected them, and Eloise clearly enjoyed them. If anyone had said as much to her, she would have been outraged. They were for the child's own good, she claimed. They were "necessary." They kept her from becoming more of a spoiled brat than she was, Eloise would have explained. And Gabriella herself knew how truly bad she was. If she weren't, her mother wouldn't have had to hit her . . . if she weren't, her father would have stopped her mother from beating her . . . if she weren't, they might have loved her. But she knew better than anyone how unworthy she was, how truly terrible were her crimes. She knew all of it, because her mother told her.

And as she lay on the floor that summer afternoon, and her mother dragged her off the floor by one arm, and slapped her one more time before sending her to her room, she saw her father watching them from the doorway. She knew he had seen the beating and done nothing about it, just as always. His eyes looked mournful as Gabriella crept past him, and he said nothing. He didn't reach out to comfort her, he didn't try to touch her, he simply looked away, refusing to see the look in her eyes, unable to bear it any longer.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 71 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 72 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 24, 2011

    totally gripping!

    i cried for gabriella and cheered for her at the end! child abuse is alive and is a reality. report it even if you have a slight suspician. i highly recommend this reading. steele's best!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 22, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    The Long Road Home by Danielle Steel, a most touching and moving story

    One of the best books Danielle Steel has ever written. In fact, it might the best book D.Steel has ever written. It moved my husband & me to tears. I have never read such a heart wrenching story in my life. The book has many dramatic events, it touched me to the very core of my soul. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading about real life experiences, with tragic and dramatic events in different types of relationships. It also makes you rethink your childhood whether it was unhappy or not.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 22, 2013

    Highly recommend love the book

    once you start reading cannot place book down awesome

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 26, 2012

    Must read!

    When you think it can't get any worse...the strengh, the courage, the will to fight and reclaim her life. If you' ve had a troubled past this book will teach you to overcome it. It's all about learning to let it go and let the good in.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2008

    This book was really nice.

    'The Long Road Home' was an okay type of book. It took me a few chapters to read to actually get into the book. The novel had a lot of meaning to it. the meaning to me is, 'Strength comes through struggles'. It's so wonderful how all this strength can come from such a broken down woman. My favorite part is just the overall moral. The detemination of one young lady, how you can get stronger by being hurt. Gabriella was hurt repeatedly, but she got stronger from it. Each time she was beaten by her mother, never having love from her parents, losing the love of her life 'Joe' and their unborn baby. She was banished from the convent--the place where her mother left her--the only place she had left in her life to go. She struggled with financial problems. She met a guy who she thought loved her, but he turned out to be a con-man, and then he beat her. She got stronger, and she still had the courage to live. There were some really good uses of imagery. When they talk about her angelic face and her curly blonde hair, its like you can see her. How every sentence you read painted a picture in your mind. There was some personification, 'The pain almost pushed her of the bed.' There was also a simile 'Her mother was like the wiked witch of the west.' I would recommend this book to any one who has gone through struggle after struggle in there life, just to let them know that they're not the only ones. That things like this only make you stronger. To let them know that they shouldn't give up, and that there will come a day when they will be happy. Even if you are one of those people who don't have a vivid imagination, you should read this book.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 31, 2003

    You must read this book!

    I never read Danielle Steel before so my friend's mother gave this book to me. I must say it is one of the best books I ever read and I was hooked from the very beginning. I couldn't put it down and really felt like Gabbie was a real person. She was such an inspiration for all that she went through. This book will make you cry. Definitely pick up this book. I will be reading more of her books in the future.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2013

    Lexi's Goodbye's

    Hello my beautiful friends who actually care to read this! This is probably not a shock to you that I'm leaving, but nonetheless I think you deserve an explanation, yes? Good. Well, over the past few months I have wanted to leave for so many reasons. 1. This consumes too much time out of my life. 2. The drama is endless and always will be. 3. Most of this just depresses the hell out of me. The reason I have not left yet is because I was waiting. Waiting for one special person to come back after disappearing. I was waiting because I thought that after he came back we'd be together and we'd be happy. I'm sure you can guess by the context of this sentence, we are not. Sadly his love for me died while mine is still raging like a burning fire. I have no reason to stay now, for he WAS my reason to stay. My only reason. To all my friends: Please don't hate me for this. Dont try to make me stay. I love you guys. I do. My close friends: You are the thing that kept me going all this time. That, and the blind optimism of his coming back. I love you all and please stay strong. Remember me and all the times we had together. Ace: I love you my friend. I mean that in every way possible. You are one of my best friends on here. Keep that amazing heart of gold and dont let anyone take away your keen sense and ability to know right from wrong. Whatever it may be. Rose: We just became friends but I'm going to miss you a lot. Same to Lizzy. Treat my brother right, girl. And love him. Love him more than anyone else. America: You have stayed with me throughout this whole time. Through everything. And I thank you for that. Lunas: All of this probably pisses you off, knowing you. I have no doubt that you are one of my best friends. I love you. I love you in a different way that i have never loved anyone. I love you like a friend, a brother, and so much more. You will always have a piece of my heart even if you cant stand me after this. I thank you so much for caring about me enough to talk to me even when you didnt feel like it. Fireflies is our song. Every word of it. Ours. And dont you ever give up the talent you have. I will miss you possibly the most... And finally: Tenor. I love you. I have loved you since the first time we met. And it breaks my heart that I have to go. But sometimes love falls short of our expectations. I remember the first time we met. Your witty, sarcastic humor. I remember everytime we talked how I would get butterflies just when I saw your name. I fought like HELL for you. And I'd do it all over again. Please don't feel bad or have any regrets because, my love, I consider it a privilege to have my heart broken by you. I love you. And its going to stay that way for a long time. To All: Good luck. This crazy world has so much to offer and yet so much that will bring you down. Stay strong and remember who you are. ~Lennox Marie Morgan

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 22, 2013

    Sorry but child abuse is not a romantic novel

    Children abused may function but may abuse their own or go in abusive relationships it is not the subject for stelle nor does the subject fit her style or genre m a

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 18, 2013


    I absolutely loved this book so much. Excellent plot, excellent writing, but then look who we're talking about. Hell, it's Danielle Steel. One of the best there ever was. Thanks a million for all the great stories.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 10, 2013

    A must read

    I have read this book so many times the pages r worn, but each time is like reading it for the first time. I find myself crying each time its that heartwrenching.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 19, 2013

    Keeps Your Interest All The Way Through

    An easy read, gripping story. A generally good book. What you would expect from Danielle Steel.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 12, 2013

    Love love love

    Love love loved it!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 14, 2013

    A Great Book

    So Sad

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 14, 2012

    Great read

    Incredibly emotional at every turn. I could not put it down.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 2, 2012

    Must read!

    Could not put this one down, hated to see it end.

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  • Posted August 2, 2011

    Love it

    I cried so many time .

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 27, 2009

    Great Read.

    I haven't read Danielle Steele books in years and borrowed this book from a friend. Very moving and well written, I cried through the whole book. I was very disturbed how a mother could be so abusive and amazed how a child could be so resilent.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2006


    this is a great book, i love it so much, it will probroly be the best book you will ever read!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 27, 2006

    English Student

    Awsome book, i cired through the whole thing. I am reading it for my ISU and it is absolulaty amazing!!! i will probably read it again

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 28, 2005

    Well written, but not her best

    The novel is well written and the characters are well developed. The plot is hard to follow. It's hard to believe that so much heart-ache could come to one woman. The story is great if you have a vivid imagination.

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