The bonds of family are tested and explored in Leaving Before It’s Over, an interesting family drama by Jean Reynolds Page. When Roy Vines discovers his beloved wife Rosalind is seriously ill, he determines to do anything he can to get her the help she needs, even if it means he has to appeal to the identical twin brother from whom he has been estranged for years. The Vines family is extremely complex – the brother’s feud stems from an illicit love affair between Roy’s brother and his first wife, an affair that resulted in the birth of a teenage son, Luke, who believes Roy is his natural father and has abandoned him. Added to the mix are Roy’s parents, who also believe Roy ran out on his responsibilities, and Roy and Rosalind’s two daughters, 16-year-old Lola, and six-year-old Janie Ray.
The conflict between Roy and his brother Mont is practically Biblical in proportion – their animosity is epic and almost impossible to surmount. But as often happens, Roy’s toxic relationship with his family has given him the strength to forge his own family, one he values above anything. “My family – that family up there in Virginia – they did more harm than good. To me, I mean. I realized early on that if I planned to get what I needed from a family, I’d have to make a better one than I came from.”
Leaving Before It’s Over is a tangled web indeed, and the novel is saved from pure soap opera by Page’s strong and very likeable characters. Of all of the Vines, I enjoyed Lola the most – despite her youth, she had a clear head on her shoulders and maturity of heart rarely demonstrated among some of the adults. Her fresh outlook on life and her hopeful attitude are a nice counterpoint to the other bitter relationships in this story.
Watching the Vines family work through their snarled and bitter relationships wasn’t always pretty. But the story was engaging, and I found myself caught up in wondering if they could resolve all the twisted “vines” of hurt and disappointment. Page’s portrayal of life in a small Southern town was realistic and believable, and left me feeling as if I’d had time to become acquainted with the characters and their stories over a glass of iced tea on the front porch.
Leaving Before It’s Over is reviewed for TLC Book Tours.