It’s been said that opposites attract, and this is true in Anita Shreve’s “Rescue,” now out in paperback.
Shreve takes her readers on an emotional journey as she tells the story of one man who struggles to raise his teenage daughter while fighting the possibly detrimental genetic makeup of the child’s mother.
Peter Webster is a new EMT with the town fire department when he is called to the scene of a horrific accident involving a drunken driver. As he pulls the victim, Shelia Arsenault, from the wreckage, Peter becomes entranced with the beautiful but broken woman.
Against his better judgment and bucking the rules of his job, Peter finds himself becoming intimately involved with the beauty, and theirs is a whirlwind affair. When Sheila announces that she is pregnant, Peter marries her despite his parents’ objections, determined to provide Sheila with the stable home life she had never experienced. Their daughter Rowan is born, and for a short while the couple are blissfully happy as Sheila becomes the doting mother.
But soon, the thrill of motherhood and wifehood becomes old for Sheila and she reverts to her irresponsible ways, dulling her dissatisfaction with an abundance of drinking. When she endangers Rowan’s life in a car accident, Peter has had enough and sends Sheila packing, vowing to never allow her back in her daughter’s life.
Fast forward 18 years, and Rowan, about to graduate from high school, is beginning to follow in her mother’s footsteps. Peter desperately tries to warn his daughter about the dangers of drinking, but tragedy strikes once again and this time it’s Rowan who is in danger of losing her life because of the bottle.
Peter reaches out to Sheila, hoping she’ll come to the aid of their daughter. But Sheila’s sudden reappearance could push Rowan away for good — or give Peter the chance to save the two women most important to him.
With “Rescue,” Shreve gives readers a close look at family dynamics gone terribly wrong. Shreve does her research and accurately portrays the technical side as well as the human side of being an EMT. She also relates through her story how devastating life can be for alcoholics and their families.
“Rescue” is a stirringly emotional but satisfying read that readers are sure to find captivating.