by Jim Steinberg


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During a moment of escape on a Friday when his work had begun with a disappointing surprise, Ben Snow meets Sydney Bouquet in a most unusual way. Ben is a public legal services attorney representing poverty clients. Sydney is a mother who has come to town to regain custody of her seven-year-old son from an ex-husband who has taken him away from her in violation of their court-ordered custody arrangement. Powerfully attracted to this vibrant but reluctant young woman, Ben steps out of his reclusive nature to gain her attention. Taken aback at first by his charm offensive, Sydney, whose trip across the country is for the sole purpose of reuniting with her kidnapped son, yields to Ben's persuasion. They decide to spend the next day together, but Sydney insists they tell no true stories about their pasts or futures. She wants their day to be a pleasant escape from what she must face head-on at her Monday morning appointment: the beginning of the most important struggle of her life.
The plan is for Ben to visit her where she is staying in the house of a family friend in a village beside the ocean. He will introduce her to the nearby beach she wants to see before she leaves town. She intends for them to have a picnic. He promises that the fog and rain will give way to the sun.
Late Friday afternoon, Ben learns of Sydney's identity, again by accident. This happens while he is sharing, with a reluctance that matches hers just hours before, end-of-week drinks with his officemates at The Publican, their favorite watering hole for gathering in the midst of other public employees. Disappointed by the implications of this information for his growing desire, Ben considers withholding his identity from Sydney. His justification, he tries to tell himself over and over, is her insistence on their telling no true stories. Following this choice will also mean not telling his boss and coworkers with whom he has grown quite close in the two years since he escaped from a big city law practice and the struggles of his past. Humboldt Legal Services is, after all, the closest thing he has to family.
There are broader problems. "Winzler v. Bouquet" appears to be a law reform case with significant implications for the way courts make custody decisions when kidnapping one's own child across state lines might have taken place. Further, the insular nature of the town Ben has chosen for his home makes its small legal community reluctant to embrace change or the outsiders who promote it, especially when the nation is turning away from free legal services for poor people. To complicate the situation even more, the case has personal implications for a web of people who live and work in close proximity, particularly when more than one of them make questionable decisions.
After an unexpected occurrence almost ends their date before it begins but transforms it into something even more unusual, Ben and Sydney begin their day. Still troubled by what he has tried to escape from and now by what he wants, Ben gets caught between his desire for this fascinating woman and his ethics and sense of fair play. What follows is a story of one wrong turn after another for outsiders faced with an unwelcoming environment. When Ben learns that his father is coming to town to make amends with his son and is choosing the worst possible time, the problems mount, and the opportunities for change do as well.
"Boundaries," Jim Steinberg's debut novel, is a story of love and law, betrayal and redemption, overcoming the past, crossing professional boundaries and pushing past personal ones, consequences, and getting help from unexpected places. Though the legal matter is the context that gives Boundaries its structure, its intent is to peer into its characters from up close. The case, "Winzler v. Bouquet," provides the route to their interiors.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781482085723
Publisher: CreateSpace Publishing
Publication date: 11/12/2013
Pages: 306
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.69(d)

About the Author

Jim Steinberg is a writer, mediator, hobbyist blacksmith, and rose gardener. His stories have appeared in Clapboard House, The Greensboro Review, The New Renaissance, Sensations Magazine, Cities and Roads, The Lone Wolf Review, The Bishop's House Review, Voices From Home - A North Carolina Prose Anthology, and Best Of Clapboard House. He is now preparing two short story collections for publication and is working on Reunion, his second novel.

Jim is a Fellow of the Redwood Writing Project of Humboldt State University and a founding member of the Lost Coast Writers' Retreat, a six-day gathering along the Mattole River on the remote Northcoast of California. He has taught English and Social Studies in public schools, practiced law, and worked with legal studies and law enforcement training programs in community colleges in the West and the South. For the last eleven years he has been a mediator specializing in helping couples separate, divorce, and settle child custody concerns and property division in a peaceful, collaborative manner. He does this in the reassuring setting of his home and in tribal courts in Northern California.

For the last twenty-plus years Jim has been a miner for stories, drawing upon his experience in family, intimate love, work, and community, as well as the experience of those he loves and many he has known, and, of course, a writer's desire to wonder. He is lives close to his children, grandchildren, and friends in beautiful Humboldt County, on the Northcoast of California, Behind The Redwood Curtain.

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