A Watershed Year

A Watershed Year

by Susan Schoenberger


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781477848012
Publisher: Amazon Publishing
Publication date: 11/26/2013
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 296
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Susan Schoenberger is a writer and editor who lives in West Hartford, Connecticut, with her husband and three (almost-grown) children. A Watershed Year, which won the gold medal in the William Faulkner-William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition, is her first novel. Her short stories and essays have appeared in Inkwell, Village Rambler, and Bartlebysnopes.com, among others. A longtime journalist, Susan has worked for the Baltimore Sun, the Hartford Courant, and many other newspapers and online publications. Please visit her website at susanschoenberger.com and follow her on Twitter @schoenwriter.

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A Watershed Year 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Lucy is stunned when her best friend thirty-three year old Harlan dies from cancer even knowing he would die soon. She thinks he will come out of his bedroom any moment to greet her as thirty-three years olds do not die from cancer. She struggles to move on but cannot accept his death especially when he seemed to get better but abruptly ended his experimental treatments in spite of her begging him not to quit. Her biggest regret was never telling him she loved him. E-mails from Harlan that he arranged to be sent after he died begins to encourage Lucy; especially the one in which he insists she is perfect to raise a child. She ponders motherhood and decides out of homage to her cherished best friend to adopt. Lucy travels to Russia where she meets equally lonely physically and emotionally scarred four years old Mat. She adopts him and brings him back to America. Although he initially is extremely reticent and frightened, Mat and Lucy slowly form a caring bond as each heals emotionally due to the loving codependence on each other that they forge. However, Mat's father Vasily arrives from Russia to bring his son home. A Watershed Year is a warm inspirational character study in which the key players (including Harlan through his e-mails, a tape, and his beloved's memories) seem real. Lucy is a terrific protagonist who holds the entertaining enlightening story line together as she grows from dependency on Harlan (even after he died) to a mothering dependency on Mat to finally becoming a mother when Vasily arrives. With a strong support cast, readers will appreciate this profound look at the convolution and metamorphosis of relationships. Harriet Klausner
whitreidtan on LibraryThing 7 months ago
When someone dies, it seems there are always things left to say. The ones left behind want to pick up a phone and tell their loved one something only to realize anew that the person is gone. But what if the same is true for the one who has died? What if there was more to say but there wasn't time to say it? What if those things that stayed unsaid could be said and could change the course of a life? A Watershed Year imagines just that scenario in a wonderful and credible way.Lucy McVie has spent the past year of her life caring for her beloved friend Harlan as he fights cancer. Now a 38 year old college religion professor with an affinity for the saints, Lucy has known Harlan since they were in graduate school. She has also secretly been in love with him almost from the moment they met and so she thinks nothing of giving up time to care for him as he goes through treatment and then dies. After Harlan's death, Lucy must pick up the pieces of her neglected life. And then she receives an e-mail from Harlan that changes everything. He set up a program to send Lucy pre-written e-mails once a month starting several months after his death because he hasn't told her everything; he had more to say. The first e-mail hits on one of Lucy's unspoken, long-held wishes: to become a mother. Harlan tells her that he is certain that she will be a mother someday and that she will in fact be wonderful at it.Once the e-mail opens Lucy to the possibility, she starts to make her way down the path to adopting. Things start to fall into place as she finds an agency specializing in Russian adoptions and is fast tracked to adopt 4 year old Mat whose eyes melt Lucy's heart when she sees his picture. At the same time, a colleague shows an interest in her romantically and her teaching career is only just hanging on by a thread. With so much going on in her life, it is not surprising that Lucy chooses to ignore the warning signs that everything may not be above board with the adoption. As in so much of her life, when she commits her heart, she does it fully and without reservation but also without understanding the emotional repercussions of such a commitment.Lucy's year after losing Harlan is indeed a watershed year for her. She learns about herself and her capacity for love. She makes some tough decisions; some that bring her joy and some that bring her sadness. She might not yet be as strong as Harlan says she can be but she struggles through and comes out stronger for it. As a character, she is lovely and realistic. The secondary characters are less fleshed out but this is, after all, Lucy's watershed year and so the focus is fittingly on her. The monthly e-mails from Harlan act as the catalyst for her adopting Mat but they also help her to come to a better understanding of who she really is inside, the person for whom Harlan cared so deeply. And the flashbacks to her relationship with Harlan offer a sweet glimpse into the past, helping to round out and explain Lucy as a character but also offering insight into the core nature of their realtionship.Schoenberger has written a deeply moving tale, a wonderful and rich novel, one that packs many different emotional punches. Touching on grief and love and motherhood, she has created a true and touching story. Adoption is not easy. In fact, it is fraught with frustration, uncertainty, and hopelessness, even after Lucy brings Mat home. Grief is not simple. It is consuming and sneaky and constant. Love is not immediate or safe or perfect. It is hard won but all the sweeter for that. All of these things and more are true and Schoenberger has shown them to be so beautifully.
TheLostEntwife on LibraryThing 7 months ago
People, this is not a little book. It¿s 320 pages long. I started reading it at 9:30pm thinking I¿d get a few chapters in. Next thing I knew I was closing the book and looking at my clock where the time of 4:30am was looking at me with accusation. I haven¿t stayed up like that to read a book in one setting, or I should say, to read an adult book in one setting, in¿ never.I was simply blown away by this story. Susan Schoenberger flawlessly moves between the past and present, connecting the story of Harlan¿s death to Lucy¿s life and the decisions being made. Add into the equation the realistic portrayal of the difficulties of adopting, especially from another country, the struggles of dating and the coping of grief from unfulfilled love and you have a knockout of a story. And in spite of all these elements, not once did I feel overwhelmed, or that there was too much stuff going on for the story to be effective.I wept and rejoiced with Lucy, I fell in love with Mat, I grieved for Harlan and felt the sting experienced by Louis as Lucy struggled to adapt to her new life.If you are looking for a book that will knock your socks off and grab you by the shoulders and shake you until you cry, this is it. By far, one of the best books I¿ve read this year.
VirtuousWomanKF More than 1 year ago
This novel is really a study in grief, moving on and beginning again.  I liked the book, very well written, but seemed heavy.  
PurpleAnime More than 1 year ago
A watershed year means a period when everything changes and it can be a difficult change. Lucy, a Professor of Religion and student of anything dealing with the saints- is about to lose her good friend Harlan to cancer. Eventually he passes away and his passing leaves her with questions about their relationship. Questions of why she's thirty-eight and never been married. Questions about our own mortality.  Not long after Harlan's death, Lucy begins to receive his emails. Each one poignant, pertinent, sad, and each one leaving an impact on her soul.Lucy's watershed year reminded me of my own watershed year in 2012. However, when Harlan's emails hit Lucy's computer I was like: "Now this story is really different." Harlan thought so highly of Lucy he wanted to still communicate with her. This, in my opinion was unique. It was a very touching, "tear-jerking" moment along with Lucy adopting a little boy, Azamat from Russia. A Watershed Year, is literary fiction at its finest: imagery, characters that read like real people, and enough touching and hair raising moments to make you as frustrated as Lucy. Two characters which got on my last nerves were Yulia and Louis. I will not say why. This book was a good read and I invite anyone to read it and the discussion questions in the back as well 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
frank_drury More than 1 year ago
As I began reading this novel, I was immediately pulled into the story about Lucy and her best friend Harlan, not just by the moving story of Harlan's battle with cancer and Lucy's pending adoption of a 4 year old Russian orphan, but more so by the wonderful prose. I usually read the first chapter of any new Kindle fiction release. Very few grab me like this one did. Halfway through the story I sent a message to the author telling her that her work reminded me somewhat of Anne Tyler, particularly AN ACCIDENTAL TOURIST. But it also reminds me of great nineteenth century novels, when writing seemed to be more alive and beautiful, more caringly crafted. This book won a 5 star rating from Midwest Book Review. Susan Schoenberger also won the gold medal in the William Faulkner-William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition for this book. In reading A WATERSHED YEAR, I am left with much more confidence and enthusiasm than I had before about the future of Amercian Literature. I eagerly look forward to her next work.