One of Us - Tawni O'Dell

I have read other books by Tawni O’Dell, and am a fan of her ability to set the scene, particularly when she draws on her roots in the small coal-mining towns of western Pennsylvania. Her characters possess all the grit and determination I imagine it must take to face each day in such grim circumstances. Despite the depressed conditions of life inside the mines, the job continued to be a draw for workers, who came to fulfill what they imagined to be the American dream.


The protagonist of this story has successfully accomplished what so many of these men and women hoped for — a life of wealth and substance for their children far beyond the mines. Danny Doyle has lived his life in the spotlight; a life of privilege and ease that helps him forget the hardships of his youth. When he finally returns to the town of his birth, he must face all of his demons, some living, and some long since in the past.


This is an almost love story, a psychological thriller, and the portrait of an unconventional but loving family. There is a lot of dysfunction, and a lot of truly wonderful characters. There are a few that seem to border on stereotype — cold-hearted killer, surprisingly likable curmudgeons, kind-hearted cop — but O’Dell handles them all with surety and grace. And even though I knew all along who did it and why, I enjoyed the trip all the more because of the company I kept along the way.