Together With You by Victoria Bylin begins with every parent’s nightmare; their child is missing.
Dr. Ryan Tremaine, an ophthalmologist and single father, has custody of all three of his children for the summer. His oldest son, Kyle, needs equipment for baseball so he takes his children to the mall. After battling with his two younger children, Eric and Penny, and thinking checkout will be quick, he tells Eric to take Penny to the food court for ice cream and wait there for him. As it takes more and more time to finish what should have been a speedy transaction, Dr. Tremaine becomes increasingly worried. Penny suffers from fetal alcohol effects and is a handful for him to handle, not to mention Eric.
Eric becomes bored waiting for his dad so he takes Penny to the arcade. Unknown to him, Penny, overwhelmed by the sights and sounds, left.
Carly Jo Mason, an ex-social worker from Kentucky, now working at The Animal Factory in LA, hears the Code Adam alert for missing children. She quickly locks her register and begins a slow methodical search for the little girl. Relieved, she finds her in The Friendly Forest area playing with stuffed bunnies. Carly Jo realizes something is different about Penny, but doesn’t know what until she talks with Penny’s father.
After the family is reunited, Dr. Tremaine realizes Carly has a unique touch where Penny is concerned. She can quickly calm the little girl down. Carly’s not afraid to speak her mind, either, as she reads him the riot act for leaving Penny with her younger brother. Deciding to lay his cards on the table, he explains to Carly his need for a new nanny and invites her to apply for the job.
Together With You delves into human nature through both the Christian and secular viewpoints. Dr. Tremaine, raised by a humanistic father, has become an agnostic. Carly Jo, raised by a preacher, has become a Christian.
Dr. Tremaine is filled with guilt and remorse over the affair that ended his marriage and produced Penny. Carly Jo is guilt-ridden over “losing” a teenager under her care as a social worker.
Victoria Bylin does a wonderful job of portraying the dynamics of a broken family riddled with anger and guilt. She deftly illustrates the incompleteness inherent in broken families. In addition, she shows how hard it is to connect sometimes, regardless of how hard each member may try.
An insightful book with undertones of faith, Together With You is an interesting and compelling story.
***********There are scenes of violence that may be disturbing to some.**********
I received this book from the author and Bethany House. I was not required to review, however, I am happy to do so.