Left to Chance: A Novel

Left to Chance: A Novel

by Amy Sue Nathan


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From the author of The Good Neighbor and The Glass Wives comes an enchanting story of returning home and discovering what truly matters after loss.

No one knows why Teddi Lerner left her hometown, but everyone knows why she’s back.

Twelve-year-old Shayna— talented, persistent, and adorable—persuaded "Aunt Tee" to return to Chance, Ohio, to photograph her father’s wedding. Even though it's been six years since Shay's mother, Celia, died, Teddi can hardly bear the thought of her best friend's husband marrying someone else. But Teddi’s bond with Shay is stronger than the hurt.

Teddi knows it’s time to face the consequences of her hasty retreat from family, friends, and, her old flame, but when she looks through her viewfinder, nothing in her small town looks the same. That’s when she truly sees the hurt she's caused and—maybe—how to fix it.

After the man she once loved accuses Teddi of forgetting Celia, Teddi finally admits why she ran away, and the guilt she’s carried with her. As Teddi relinquishes the distance that kept her safe, she’ll discover surprising truths about the people she left behind, and herself. And she'll finally see what she overlooked all along in Left to Chance by Amy Sue Nathan.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250091116
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 11/21/2017
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 637,753
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Amy Sue Nathan is the author of The Good Neighbor, and the founder of WomensFictionWriters.com, named a Best Website for Writers by Writer's Digest. Amy lives in Philadelphia and has a grown son and daughter. You can find her online, often when she shouldn't be.

Read an Excerpt


Getting picked up once meant flirting and free drinks. Today it meant hurrying through the airport in comfortable shoes.

I wove in and out of the slow-walkers and rushed past restaurant outposts selling breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The sweet, buttery aroma wafting over from the gourmet popcorn shop didn't slow me down, but when I reached a flower stand called Eliza's, I paused. I could resist the bongo-like buckets overflowing with roses, carnations, sunflowers, and the assorted I-missed-you bouquets. What caught my eye was the faux-vintage signage and the way the flowers were shielded from the imaginary sun by an awning, all meant to mimic Victorian London. It didn't hurt that the stand also sold energy drinks and earbuds. Nostalgia and irony. I resisted pulling out my camera.

My phone dinged as the carousel spit out my suitcase. I wouldn't make Shay wait more than a few moments for my reply. I'd known Shay — Shayna — since the day she was born. I remembered when she'd babbled and burped, when she'd first walked and talked. Now she was a thumb-typing, artistic tween who held a piece of my heart tighter than ever before, mostly from afar.

But today, and for the next week, Shay and I would be face-to-face. First, we'd reminisce about meeting in Chicago last summer — tea at The Drake, climbing the wall at Maggie Daley Park, the miniatures at The Art Institute, and finding our way to the bottom of a tin of Garrett popcorn. We'd replay every detail but save the best fun for last, recalling how the hotel's pastry chef let Shay decorate her own cake, which we later ate for dinner. Then we'd tick off the rest of the list: school, Shay's art, friends, reality TV, and maybe, could it be possible — boys?

I couldn't wait to see her, hug her, spend time with her.

I also couldn't wait to leave.

Shay: Dad will be a few minutes late.

Me: Aren't you with him?

Shay: In art class sorry.

Me: Ok.

Not okay. I didn't want to spend an hour and a half alone in the car with Miles. Shay was the bridge, the bond, the buffer. And Shay wasn't coming.

I paced between the signs for taxis and shuttle buses. Car after car slowed as it passed, then kept moving, or stopped for someone else. I watched bear-hug reunions and aloof hellos. I smiled at every woman driver who passed. I even stifled a few waves. My insides rolled. This had to stop.

Celia would not be picking me up.

A horn beep-beeped and a white sedan pulled alongside the curb. I slung my camera bag over my shoulder and tipped my suitcase toward the trunk, my eyes on my old friend as he stepped out of the car. Miles's hair was gray and a little thin, more than it had been when I'd seen him a year before — or since, in the pictures he'd posted on Facebook. He'd lost weight.

I met Miles at the trunk. We reached our arms around each other and hugged hard, but quick. Miles wasn't just thinner, he felt more fit than I remembered. What had been soft was now solid. But his newfound physique couldn't hide the lines around his eyes. He looked tired.

"Thanks for coming all the way out here," I said.

"Not a problem. I hope Shay texted you. She had a project to finish for art class." Miles shooed my hand from my suitcase and lifted it into the trunk. "What've you got in here, Ted? Bricks?"

No one in my life now called me Ted. It sounded unfinished, yet smooth and familiar.

"Nope, just rocks."

Miles smiled and just like that, memories broke through. Was he remembering, as I was, our long-ago friendly teasing during Scrabble matches and Pictionary marathons with Celia? We'd always joked that with Celia as his wife, and my best friend, we were practically related.

I touched his arm before I could stop myself. "Good to see you, Mi. This is weird for us, isn't it? To be here, I mean?"

"A little bit, yes."

"We okay?"

"As okay as we're going to be, Ted."

"I would have come back sooner if you'd asked me." I wasn't sure that was true. "Let's not do this now. You being here is important to Shay, so it's important to me."

"I hope that's true."

"If it wasn't true, I wouldn't be here," I said.

"I guess not." Miles's tone was soft, his words slow, leaving space for his thoughts. And mine. "You look good."

"Oh, God, Mi — I'm a mess. But thanks." I knew how my hair smashed to my head after a long airplane sleep. I had a natural tan that sometimes hid the fact that I was thirty-nine, but not after two flights. My skin tone was the reason most people thought I was Italian or even Greek, not descended from the Russian Jews who had journeyed west — which meant past Cleveland — from New York's Lower East Side in the 1890s.

"I have to admit, once we got used to the idea, it was exciting to think you'd be our wedding photographer. I just want you to know that, under the circumstances, we really appreciate everything you're doing for us."

Our. We. Us.

Miles and ...

My breath caught.

Not Celia.

Violet Frank.

His fiancée.

And I was going to photograph the wedding. That's what Shay had wanted. That's why I was here.

"Ready?" Miles asked.

No, I wasn't ready at all, but within moments I was headed toward the place that had haunted me for the past six years, the town I grew up in, and ran from, on the day of Celia's funeral.

Chance, Ohio, was no place for wimps.

I was on my way, regardless.

A straight stretch of rural highway connected the Robertson Regional Airport to the road leading to my hometown, tucked in the northeast corner of Union County. Or it had been a rural highway. The last time I was here the "highway" had been two lanes flanked by cornfields. Now the road was the blackest black with bright yellow lines. Newly paved and painted, it was four lanes wide. Two lanes out of town I understood, but two lanes in? I stared out the window at the cornfields. I loved the way the light played off the stalks at different heights, how the clouds cast a shadow that seemed to go on for miles. But I knew that as soon as I saw the fields, the exit would be near. Hey! Where were my cornfields?

"There's an outlet mall?" I hadn't meant to say it aloud.

"I'm sure Shay will talk you into going. It's her favorite place. She says it has everything."

"There's enough space in the parking lot for —"

"For a hotel. And a water park. I know. It's exciting, isn't it?"

"Someone is building a hotel and a water park?"

"Not yet."

"Who would go there?"

"Everyone," Miles said. "There's a new road off Route 33 now, so it's easy access. Small-town feel, big-town amenities. The mall has done a lot of good things for the area, Ted. And it's only the beginning."

"What are you doing? Running for mayor?" I was kidding.

Miles was not.

"No," he said with a smile. "The county board of commissioners. Just decided yesterday!"

I could have sworn a light sparked off his front tooth.

I tried to imagine Celia as a politician's wife, all buttoned-up business suit, pearls, and coiffed hairdo. Nope, couldn't picture it. Celia was an artist, a teacher, an expert tailor. Politics, even small-town politics, would have eaten her up and spit her out. The expectations, the gossip, the mandatory mingling. Or maybe Celia would have changed its landscape with her caring conversations and handmade clothes. I shivered. It didn't matter what kind of political wife Celia would have been or what she could have done. Violet would be the one on the campaign trail.

"So, how's your life?"

"It's good. Lots of traveling, lots of interesting people."

Miles drummed the steering wheel.

"What's it really like working for Simon Hester?"

People always wanted to know about Simon "The Hotel Man" Hester. He had landed on at least one big most-eligible-bachelor or best-dressed list per year since he was twenty-five, almost twenty-five years ago. That kept some women interested in him. At first, that had kept me from being interested.

"I like working for Simon."

"I saw that write-up in San Francisco Magazine."

"You get San Francisco Magazine?"

"There's this thing called the Internet now. And yes, we have a real copy too. You're a celebrity."

"Hardly. I take pictures of some celebrities and some fancy places. The Hester hotels have an A-list clientele. That's thanks to Simon, not me."

"That article had more than a few paragraphs about you."

It was all part of Simon's branding. He bragged about — promoted, he had said — all the weddings and corporate events we handled, and how I shot the most important ones. Since A-listers always want to be considered most important, they started requesting me as their photographer.

"The article was about modern hoteliers." I shouldn't have used that word — it made me sound like an industry insider. Which I was. I just didn't want to sound like one around Miles. Not yet, anyway. "I wasn't the only one mentioned in the article. Or in the photo. You remember me because you know me. Just like the other people in the photo. Everyone who knows them thinks they're famous too. Believe me, none of us are."

"Well, you were the only one from 'a small town in Ohio.' It would have helped our image if they had mentioned Chance by name."

Chance had an image?

"So, no problem getting away, with your schedule and all? That article made Hester sound like kind of a hard-ass. But I guess you'd have to be ..."

"Simon's a very nice man. I've told you that before." There was a time I'd have talked to Miles about Simon for real, but that time had passed. "No, it wasn't a problem at all. Nothing for Shay would ever be a problem."

It hadn't been a problem. It had been a nightmare.

I'd never taken off so much time before, and now I was handing over supervision of two weekends of weddings in New York and San Francisco, weddings that had been booked more than a year in advance. I'd rescheduled outdoor photo shoots at our new resort in Scottsdale and had canceled models, wardrobe, and makeup in Denver. I'd sweet-talked my assistant, Annie, into making the calls for me and for helping me find the perfect apology gifts, likely gourmet meals or spa services, for the wedding couples. Luckily, the corporate attorneys were loophole experts.

Back in San Francisco, I'd color-coded and organized everything, then e- mailed with cc and bcc, finally backing up to an external drive and the cloud. I was ready to leave for eight days. Then, this morning over coffee, Simon had thrown a curveball into my game plan. But I wasn't going to think about that now.

What mattered was that I'd promised Shay I'd come home, and I had.

"Where's your favorite hotel?" Miles asked.

"I don't have a favorite."

Miles wanted an answer. They always did. "I always like Aspen in the summer. Palm Springs is always nice in the winter."

"Too bad we only have Nettie's on Lark."

"I'll love staying at Nettie's. It's full of memories."

"I don't know about that. It's been renovated, but it's not a hotel at all, you know. You're in for a DIY vacation."

As long as DIY included decent cell reception, I'd be fine. I pulled out my phone. I'd just hold it. In case an urgent message came through. I needed to check in with Annie, but really, after the two flights all I wanted was a bath, a drink, and a nap before seeing Shay.

"If you need to check in with work, I don't mind," Miles said. "You can tell your boss about the land if you want."

I didn't know if Miles was kidding and didn't ask. "No, it's fine. Tell me what's new with Shay."

"You text her all the time, I'm sure you know all about her art class. She's really enjoying it."

"She's a natural."

Miles glanced at me. "I know."

A lump grew in my throat. "How are your parents?" I asked.

"Excited about the wedding. Yours?"

"They're in Portland now."

"Celia always admired their adventurous spirit. Sometimes I think she envied it."

I shrugged. "I guess."

We'd pass one more cornfield and then exit the highway, while most cars would keep going and going toward bigger towns or parts unknown. But again, not a stalk in sight. Out of the rich soil grew a Cineplex. My stomach lurched. I pressed my lips together as we rounded the exit, drove past the gas stations and string of fast-food drive-thrus that our exit was previously known for. Last Exit for 50 Miles. Then just over four miles down the road, we turned left onto Main Street. The stoplight was red.

There was a stoplight in Chance? Until I was twelve, there wasn't even a stop sign.

"I can't believe this."

"Not the Chance you remember, huh, Ted?"

"No. It's —"


I should have agreed. I should have been happy. But this seemed wrong. Main Street looked posh. Preppy, even. The Chance I knew was gritty on the outside, pretty on the inside. The place I knew didn't have filigreed street signs so glossy they looked freshly painted — or lampposts to match. And what was with the overflowing baskets of fuchsia impatiens dangling from them? And the awnings. Forest-green awnings decorated every window and doorway from the computer doctor on one corner to the eye doctor on the other. Where were the mismatched signs that had been there my whole life? Those had made sense, announcing goods and services, not flaunting a designer color scheme.

It was as if Chance had turned its back on itself.

I stared at the storefronts. I had never noticed the marble arches between the businesses, or how the ivy trailed across the bricks and along the bottom of the windows. I snapped a few pictures with my phone so I could study them later, before coming back with my camera.

"I'd love to see Shay tonight. Just a quick visit? I want to go to sleep early, but ..."

"It's Gallery Night for her summer art class. That's why she had to stay back, to set up her sculpture. She wants you to come, of course. I'll pick you up."

"Tonight? Really?"

"You can't say no, Ted. She's over the moon that you'll be there."

"Right. Of course. Of course I'll go."


That didn't give me much time to check in with Annie, unpack, shower, change clothes, apply a little makeup. It gave me no time to just be in Chance without seeing people I knew. People I'd left behind. Exhaustion swept through me. Was that what accounted for my hallucination? As Miles cruised past the alley where Celia and I had hidden to smoke cigarettes the summer before we'd started high school, I could swear I saw her standing with her back against the brick wall, a grown-out perm (an ill-fated attempt to have hair like mine) pulled up in a ragged ponytail. And there I was, sitting cross-legged on the ground with pack of Parliaments in my lap. We'd thought no one knew what we were doing, but we were grounded. Twice.

My arms and legs tingled, almost itched. Curls crept across my forehead like spiders. The air from the A/C burned my eyes, and the vibrations from Miles tapping the steering wheel pricked my nerves. I felt the ripples and stitching in the leather seatback through my no-wrinkle dress.

Since when was I the goddamn Princess and the Pea?


Nettie's on lark, its official name, had been a boarding house until the 1950s, at which point it shifted into a trendier-sounding bed-and-breakfast. After that it was an inn, which meant: no breakfast. Now, rooms were listed on vacation rental sites and described as vintage, charming, and cozy. Painted in whimsical pale blue and yellow, the house mimicked the sky and the sun in a child's drawing. The turret had made Nettie's on Lark the castle of my childhood daydreams. In college, I had cleaned the room at the top of the spiral staircase and found there was nothing royal about it, except that it was a royal pain in the ass. Celia and I had dubbed it the "Rapunzel room" and each week we'd flip a coin. The loser was the one to clean it.

"Thanks again for the ride. I know it was a hassle."

"You took two flights to get here. It was the least I could do."

"What time tonight?"

"Seven-fifteen. I promised Shay we'd be early."

"I'll be ready."

The trunk popped. "You sure you'll be okay here alone? There's no room service, you know."

"No one waits on me at the hotels," I said. "That's not who I am." That wasn't completely true. The staff did wait on me when I was with Simon, and they would have when I was alone, if I'd let them.

"You don't even have a car to get around."

"I don't have a car anywhere. I walk." Or drive golf carts, or take cabs, Uber, or limos.

Miles fiddled with his keys. His voice softened. "I still miss her, Ted. Every day. Every single day. I still can't believe she's really gone." Then he looked at me. "But you should also know, Violet's an angel. I love her very much."


Excerpted from "Left to Chance"
by .
Copyright © 2017 Amy Nathan-Gropper.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Left to Chance: A Novel 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
gaele More than 1 year ago
Two things will always be true: the people who’ve known you the longest are often most set in their expectations of how you should be, and grief will drive you in unexpected ways as it demands you succumb and deal with it. Such are lessons that Teddi is about to face head on. Six years ago her best friend since childhood, Celia, died, and Teddi, now bereft, sad, and without the other half to her every thought slipped away while the funeral was being celebrated. Now six years have passed: her career as a photographer has taken her to unexpected places, a ‘loosely’ open relationship, no home to call her own but a series of hotel suites permanently hers, as photographer to a national boutique hotel change. Renowned for her wedding photos, particularly a celebrity’s wedding that made headlines, she’s back in town at the behest of her friend’s daughter, 12 year old Shay, to photograph a wedding. Not just any wedding, Celia’s husband Miles is remarrying – and the whole small Ohio town of Chance is waiting for the celebration. Where do you turn when every moment reminds you of the person, closer than a sister, that is no longer there? Teddi spent all of her childhood with Celia: they shared dreams and secets, laughter and even Celia’s younger brother. While everyone knows Teddi – they also all believe that she abandoned Miles, Beck and Shay when she ran away - and she’s never been strong enough to explain her reasons, or even actually deal with them. With friends reappearing and even insisting that she attempt to rejoin the life she had left behind, the contrasts between old and new, the changes in town and in her, and the slow-to-come realization that she’d been in a holding pattern since Celia’s death: afraid to commit, afraid to admit her own guilt and inability to explain that she never forgot – in fact a small bag of stones become a weight that drags her down, working as both a tether to her own feelings of rootlessness and a way to communicate moments to Celia – she slowly starts to engage as moments bring her answers, more questions and finally a sense of peace. Nathan does portray the grief as Teddi’s determination to clutch it closely is often the first impression she gives. Her own reluctance to actually engage, using her camera as a wall from people and her emotions. Occasional repeated ‘lump in throat’ moments may feel like overkill at first, and the pockets and rock connection takes a bit to understand, but I did believe that the process as Teddi came to understand her grief and release some of the guilt as she honestly thought about Celia’s wishes for the people she cared for, brought a sense of reality to the story. Friend or family – everyone who is lost to us requires we find a way to deal with the pain, sorrow and loss eventually it just took Teddi a bit of time to get there. Sweet and complex, the story does unfold to encompass loss, love, friendship and expectations – and does show just how different ‘going home again’ can be with a change in outlook and expectation. I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
laceye721 More than 1 year ago
Teddi Learner returns to Chance, Ohio after six years to photograph her best friend's husband's wedding. Miles is the groom and he's getting remarried after his first wife, Celia, passed. Teddi is returning as a promise to Miles and Celia's twelve-year old daughter, Shayna. Now that Teddi has returned, she sees everything that has changed and who she missed. There were many things about this book that grabbed me right away and there were things that left me hanging. The synopsis intrigued me because I love the forbidden romance and the mystery of why a girl left her old town to find a new life. It was like a Lifetime series and I was very interested.  The characters were awesome. I absolutely adored Teddi and Shay. Shay was probably one of my favorite characters I've read. As someone who is extremely close to her mother, Shay's character resonated with me in a sense of how I would be if I lost her. I could feel the connection and the heartbreak through Shay. Teddi had a lot of great moments too. Her dialogue was probably my favorite thing about this book.  One of my favorite narratives are the "small town" stories. I think the author did a phenomenal job when giving the reader a feel of just how small the town was. There were characters introduced like the childhood best friend and other family members. I felt like I was in the small town of Chance and I was meeting these individuals through the eyes of Teddi.  There were times that this book slowed down for me. I had to push through because I knew it would pick back up. I had to put it down sometimes, and do something else before picking it back up because it just got boring. However, when pushing through, it got much better and I had a good time reading this one. I am very interested in giving another book by Amy Sue Nathan a try. 
Honolulubelle More than 1 year ago
Favorite Quotes: I sashayed down Lark wearing my light blue sundress, as if I were the star of an elaborate tampon commercial. All that was missing was the voiceover. To me, Cousin Maggie had been like a fairy godmother in sensible shoes. She seemed to know what I needed, and when I needed it. It was Cousin Maggie who handed me Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret two months before I got my period when I was eleven. Cousin Maggie also gave me my first real camera for Hanukkah when I was fourteen. “You can make the world look however you want it to look with this,” she’d said. At least at a wedding there were drinks and hors d’oeuvres. When alone at a wedding I talked to the bartender, sipped cocktails, nibbled my way through the mashed potato bar. Maybe funerals should have cocktail hours too. Mini latkes with applesauce. Kosher wine to drown your sorrows. Monogrammed tissues. I’d draw the line at funeral favors. I flinched to stop myself from looking for my best friend. How I wished that bittersweet was still a term best left for chocolate. My Review: I fell right into this cleverly written and delightfully engaging tale packed with witty humor and the irreverent and snarky inner musings of a woman returning to her small-town and attempting to atone for her cowardly and less than stellar exit six years prior. Poor Teddi, despite her best intentions she was forever on the back-foot and coming up a bit short. The storyline was superbly crafted and the writing was cunningly amusing yet also poignant and keenly insightful. The narrative was vividly detailed with humorous and revealing observations that kept me smirking. I adored these flawed yet appealing characters, they plucked at my curiosity and kept me intensely interested and in need of knowing every little thing about them. Amy Sue Nathan has a new fangirl.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A beautiful, emotional story...
AnitaG More than 1 year ago
Teddi returns home, the small town where she grew up, had a best friend and a young woman's love affair.  Having left home six years ago after her best friend's death she's never gone back. Despite the fact that she loves Celia's daughter, Shayna, and has kept in touch with her with coordinated visits in other cities.  Teddi has been working for a large hotel chain, becoming their photographer  and capturing many high profile weddings and other events. Small town Chance Ohio has changed, the outskirts growing a lot, and yet the bones of the town have remained similar, but different.  Teddi is nervous and feels a strain in being back, and photographing the wedding of Celia's widowed husband.  She also begins to see that Shayna, 12, is not a little girl, but a young tween with many confused ideas about love and where her family is going. I loved everything about this book, learning about Teddi's pain, and also seeing her open up sharing eventually with the people that were still in Chance, and her still loved her.  She wants so much to make things good for Shay, but she starts out not having a clue. Amy Sue Nathan pulls these characters together to not make a pretty picture of going home, but a gut wrenching reality of life.  A look at the mistakes we make, and how we struggle to right them and make a better life.  Teddi is lovable but so lost, and I wanted to be her friend, and give her a hand in turning around her fears and confusion about going home.  In the end she had many friends, old and new that gave her that push. I highly recommend this book.  It's perfect for this time of year, when we think of family and friends ,and often going home.  Thank you again to St. Martin's Press and Netgalley.
Jenny_Brown More than 1 year ago
Left to Chance is the delightful story of Teddi, who fled her small hometown when her best friend died. She returns, at the request of her friend's daughter, to photograph the wedding of her best friend's widower. The characters are well drawn and I was pulled into the story, happy that it didn't always give me what I expected. A charming tale.
Chris721 More than 1 year ago
Teddi left Chance,Ohio during the funeral of her very best friend Celia. Teddi and Celia had been best friends since they were children. Now 6 years later, Teddi is back in town to be the photographer at Celia's husband's wedding. Besides her husband Miles, Celia left behind her daughter Shay. Shay has had a very tough time without her mom. Being back in town, Teddi has a lot to answer for leaving so hastily. But what would you do if the person you love most in the world dies? This is a beautiful story of loss and learning to live your life again without your person. I loved this book and the characters. I felt their pain and their happiness. Amy Sue Nathan is an auto buy author for me. Her books stay with you forever. Thank you so very much to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for an ARC of this wonderful book in return for an honest review.
lauriesophee More than 1 year ago
This is a very well written story which tells us, hard as it is, we must face our mistakes from the past. A highly successful fashion photographer returns home after many years of absence. The visit, which began as a business attempt, becomes a real sentimental journey. She reconnects with old friends and revisits familiar sites from her earlier years, creating a very emotional backstory. She finds forgiveness and reconciliation with people she loves, but has unwittingly been hurt by in the past. Her visit, although brief, opens the door to many needed changes in her life. It is very easy to lose yourself in this fabulous story of a woman's choice- some good , some not.
teachlz More than 1 year ago
My Review of "Left to Chance" by  Amy Sue Nathan "Left to Chance" by Amy Sue Nathan is an emotional and heartwarming  read. The genre for this novel is Women's Fiction. The story take place mostly in the present, and only refers to the past when it pertains to a character or event. The author describes the characters as complex, complicated and confused. Photographer Teddi  has returned to Chance Ohio, after leaving without saying goodbye six years ago. Teddi's best friend Celia had passed away, and Teddi has remained in touch with  Celia's daughter 12 year old  Shayna. Teddi is a famous wedding photographer and is going to take the pictures of Shayna's dad and his new wife. Teddi  has mixed feelings about returning to Chance, and seeing the friends and loved ones she had left behind.  Teddi has the feelings that there are old and new secrets and different expectations from the people that she is seeing. Teddi also has mixed feelings about her past, present and future. I appreciate that the author discusses issues such as death of a loved one, illness,, grieving, bullying, honesty and communicating.  The author also writes about the importance of family, friends, love, support, acceptance and growth. I would recommend this novel for readers of womens  fiction that like an emotional read. I received an ARC of this book for my honest review.