2022 International Book Awards Finalist in Fiction: Women’s Fiction
“Over the course of this often heartbreaking novel, Cooper delves into a number of disturbing themes, such as mental illness, guilt, and personal ambition. Her characterizations of the three major characters are raw and realistic, and her story ably navigates the complexities of a dysfunctional family. . . . An effective exploration of one family’s complicated troubles.”
“In Maren Cooper’s character-driven novel Finding Grace, a family secret leads to ruptures and reconciliations.”
—Foreword Clarion Reviews
“Emotionally charged and written exceptionally well, author Maren Cooper created a perfect atmosphere and a solid plot. . . . I highly recommend this novel to anyone who loves emotionally charged stories with substance!”
—Readers’ Favorite, 5-star review
“Finding Grace is a novel that anyone who has raised a child can embrace—the chronicle of a parent’s search for what he’s afraid might be lost forever. It’s a gut-wrenching tale yet told with immense compassion and a true voice. Although it doles out its share of anguish, it is, in the end, a stunning portrait of courage. Maren Cooper offers readers a story for our time, with all its complexities and challenges, a journey that never waivers from the path toward hope and redemption.”
—William Kent Krueger, New York Times best-selling author of This Tender Land
“Finding Grace is a riveting dive into the heartache and terror that parents experience dealing with a child who lapses into mental illness during adolescence. It's a keen portrayal of the ways in which childhood trauma shapes lives. An added attraction is Maren Cooper’s wonderfully evocative descriptions of Lake Superior in all its moods and seasons.”
—Ames Sheldon, author of Eleanor’s Wars, Don’t Put the Boats Away, and Lemons in the Garden of Love
“Finding Grace is a heartrending story of a father's unconditional love for his daughter, the strength of that bond over time and distance, and the fortitude of a community to band together in difficult times. Maren Cooper skillfully leads her readers through a labyrinth of love, hope, commitment, and the complexity of relationships. This is an emotional must-read that will make you feel sad, happy, grateful, and hopeful.”
—Allen Eskens, author of The Life We Bury
“Finding Grace will ring true for any parent who has shepherded a child through the perils of mental illness. Filled with flawed but genuine characters, Cooper's tale delves into the complex mix of devotion, despair, fear, and hope inherent in unconditional love. A book that will linger in your heart long after you turn the final page.”
—Susan Ritz, author of A Dream to Die For
“Cold mothers and troubled children. A father’s desperate wish for vital and lasting connections. The peculiar, senseless decision-making of teens who are hurting. Second chances at love. The essence of community. These are the themes in Maren Cooper’s Finding Grace. Set on the shores of Minnesota’s Lake Superior country, the novel’s beautiful descriptions of the harsh beauty in the outside world perfectly frame the complex inner worlds of the central characters. This is a poignant story of enduring love's victory over disappointment and trauma.”
—Barbara Stark-Nemon, author of Even in Darkness and Hard Cider
“When you start to read Finding Grace, be prepared for a gripping and heart wrenching story about a daughter raised by a narcissistic mother and enabling father. Maren Cooper pulls together the psychological dynamics that hit the nail on the head, page by page, and reveals the intense trauma and effects of narcissistic parenting. I couldn’t stop turning those pages. Intense and brilliant!”
—Karyl McBride, PhD, psychotherapist and author of Will I Ever Be Good Enough? and Will I Ever Be Free of You?
“Finding Grace is utterly absorbing, heart-wrenching, and beautiful—a tribute to a father's love and a daughter's journey. Grace is lost and then found, with every twist in her story bringing new heartbreak and hope. The characters are fully-fledged and relatable; the emotions deep and true. I loved this book! Great for fans of Jodi Picoult and Emily Giffin.”
—Jane Elizabeth Hughes, author of A Spy's Wife and The Long-Lost Jules
Cooper’s novel tells the story of the struggles of Midwestern family.
Charlie Booker grows up in a series of foster homes after his mother leaves him at a fire station as an infant. At Harvard University, he meets Caroline Tate during a biology lab and marvels at her free spirit and passion for science. Their relationship progresses quickly, and they marry and move to Two Harbors, Minnesota. It turns out that he wants kids and she doesn’t, but Charlie merely sees this as a challenge: “He remembered the long road he traveled before he dared to propose and wasn’t ready to surrender on the baby question quite yet.” When she doesn’t change her mind, though, he secretly replaces her birth control pills with aspirin without her knowledge, and she becomes pregnant. The devoutly religious Caroline won’t consider an abortion, and Charlie won’t consider adoption. Instead, Charlie promises to take sole responsibility for raising their daughter, Grace. Later, Caroline accepts a position as a professor in Portugal and leaves the family, and Grace struggles with feelings of abandonment, resentment, and depression. Eventually, a letter from Caroline results in Grace’s staging her own disappearance. Over the course of this often heartbreaking novel, Cooper delves into a number of disturbing themes, such as mental illness, guilt, and personal ambition. Her characterizations of the three major characters are raw and realistic, and her story ably navigates the complexities of a dysfunctional family. The prose often has an engaging flow and has some surprising moments, although there are occasional distracting punctuation errors that might have been caught with a stronger edit. Still, the author offers plenty of well-chosen details throughout the book as she sets her scenes.
An effective exploration of one family’s complicated troubles.