Saturday, August 13, 2011
Fresh Tracks by Georgia Beers
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books
What better way to spend a holiday than surrounded by friends in a place that you love? This is the opening premise of Fresh Tracks by Georgia Beers. What starts out looking like a simple story of friendships however, quickly becomes a study of relationships - how they change, how they affect the ways we view each other and how they can be threatened if they aren't nurtured properly.
Amy Forrester and Jo Cooper have been partners for many years. They share an extremely stable and loving relationship that is still nurtured with a healthy sexual desire for each other. No lesbian bed death here. They share many interests and friends and open their cabin in the woods to four of their friends to spend the holidays between Christmas and New Year's with them. The surprise addition of Jo's niece Darby to the mix doesn't seem to be a problem, at first.
What Amy and Jo don't know is that their friends are not as happy as they themselves are. Molly and Kristen are in serious trouble, struggling to restore a relationship that is being killed by overwork and misunderstandings. If they aren't careful, they can lose everything they share with just a few harsh words. Darby, who has a reputation for loving and leaving her women, doesn't intend to be the troublemaker in this situation, but finds herself drawn to Molly in a way she's never felt before. If Kristen isn't careful, she's going to find that all of the hours of work she's been spending creating a career to support her dreams for herself and Molly will have built a future for no one.
Sophie is trying not to let her broken heart ruin the holiday for everyone else. She's struggling to survive her first holiday alone since discovering that her lover had been cheating on her and left her. She vacillates between bitter anger and despair that she will ever trust anyone again. Unfortunately, Sophie finds herself rooming with a woman who represents her own betrayal.
Laura is living on her own for the first time since cheating on her unsuspecting husband with a woman she found out didn't love her after all. She's trying to cope with a new understanding of herself and the guilt she feels over how she treated her husband. What she doesn't need is the condemnation that radiates from Sophie, who just can't help herself.
Amy and Jo find that, instead of a pleasant few days enjoying the wilderness with their friends, they have to deal with all of the drama spilling over from this group. They have to strike a balance between supporting their friends and letting them solve their own problems. More than once they're going to wonder if they should have just kept the cabin to themselves.
Fresh Tracks is a thought-provoking book. Beers takes a nice story and turns it into something more. All of the characters are likeable, but some of them do some very unlikeable things. What is interesting is the way the relationships are juxtaposed to force the reader to examine them as opposites. There are lessons in how actions that are taken for the best of reasons can sometimes lead to negative results and that people who make terrible mistakes can have other redeeming qualities about them.
There is also a subtle message about the power of forgiving people for what they have done as a release for the person who is doing the forgiving. Too often in real life it seems easier to carry a grudge than to try and understand things from another person's perspective. Different characters struggle to understand that other perspective.
The story in Fresh Tracks isn't new, but the way it shows the interactions between the characters makes it interesting. Beers always provides a good story. This one might also make you think.