Humanitarian aid worker Gia Andrews chases disasters around the globe for a living. It's the perfect lifestyle to keep her far away from her own personal ground zero. Sixteen years ago, Gia's father was imprisoned for brutally killing her stepmother. Now he's come home to die of cancer, and she's responsible for his care - and coming to terms with his guilt.
Gia reluctantly resumes the role of daughter to the town's most infamous murderer, a part complete with protesters on the lawn and death threats that are turning tragedy into front-page news. Returning to life in small-town Tennessee involves rebuilding relationships that distance and turmoil have strained, though finding an emotional anchor in the attractive hometown bartender is certainly helping Gia cope.
As the past unravels before her, Gia will find herself torn between the stories that her family, their friends and neighbors, and even her long-departed stepmother have believed to be real all these years. But in the end, the truth - and all the lies the came before - may have deadlier consequences than she could have ever anticipated....
I guess you would call The Last Breath Contemporary Fiction or Women's Fiction. But Kimberly knows how to combine genres into her books. In this one, we've got a female protagonist, and the story certainly centers on her. But we've also got the mystery aspect of a 16-year-ago murder that may need to be re-examined. And a lot of family dynamics. And maybe even some romance. And let's not forget humor. We even learn a little about international aid! Kimberly does a very good job of sewing all the threads together.
Probably the biggest compliment I can pay Kimberly is that I had to force myself NOT to skip ahead to the end. I wanted to know what happened in the worst way. This is in direct contrast to Magpie Murders, where I actually didn't care what happened in the end. Sorry, Anthony. You may have tons of fans, both of your books and your TV show. But, unfortunately for you, you're no Kimberly Belle!
I also thought that Kimberly created some great characters. Fannie Miles and Jimmy Gardner immediately come to mind. Even though I'm a native Northern Californian (I have never lived anywhere else), there is something very distinctive about the people from the South. They are just inherently interesting literarily.
Plus Kimberly can write: "Now I see there is nothing beautiful about death. Death is not precious or priceless. For the person close to the dying soul - a parent, a lover, a child - death is not a gift but a thief." That kind of sums it up, don't you think?
I have to relate one personal story. At one point, Fannie gives Jake a high five. That made me think of my granddaughter, Josie, who is 5. She somehow found herself in a Catholic church. When everybody went up to the front of the church, she went too. As he reached his hand down, Josie high-fived him. It evidently broke up the congregants. I can definitely see it in my head!
Well, I am obviously a fan of Kimberly's books. Now all I need to read is The Ones We Trust. I better get on it.