Kudos to Eleanor Swanson. In this suspenseful family tragedy, she renders in affecting detail the existential mesh of human interaction in which our intention to protect others unleashes the anguish we sought to avoid. This is a skillfully and poetically rendered story of love and its reverberating loss, and of loyalty, sheer endurance, and of healing. Swanson is an adroit raconteur of the human heart.
Marilyn Krysl, author of Dinner with Osama, Winner of Notre Dame's Richard Sullivan Prize
Estrangement grows on the pages of this novel until it is like a great rift on the ocean floor, coming into terrifying focus only after we journey into the darkness beneath the surface of our familiar lives. After her father is tried for murder, Rachel lives in denial of her family’s trauma until she becomes a stranger even to herself, a process she must reverse when she understands that her brother's obsession with a long-ago crime threatens his sanity. Reluctantly, she comes to face what Gibb has faced, including the recognition that their father has always been a cipher to them all. The backdrop for this powerful narrative is the Florida Keys, where the actions of man have left the coral reefs damaged, a rich metaphor for the lives of the Colgroves. "Before the Reef" is as suspenseful as it is emotionally engaging.
Chris Ransick, author of A Return to Emptiness
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