Home Stretch by Graham Norton

British television host Graham Norton has written a beautifully touching coming of age story about a group of families whose lives become intertwined after a horrific accident occurs in their small Irish town. As lives are torn apart from the accident, it’s the intertwined secrets kept buried which seem to cause even more damage.

A group of young adults decide to go to the beach the day before two of them will be married. But the marriage will never occur. A terrible car accident will destroy all their lives. Three of them die. And as the town mourns the dead, their wrath turns to the driver of the car, Connor. Unable to bear this terrible burden on their family and their son, Connor’s parents decide to send him away to Liverpool to work in hopes he will return when the shock subsides. Little do they know it will be years before they even know he is still alive.

Connor, who has secrets he can never share, is thrown into a job and apartment with strangers. Then something happens to him and he is tossed onto the streets, a lost, guilty boy who feels he does not deserve to even be alive. He then spends many years of his life running. Running away from the accident, his life, himself and the embarrassment he thinks he is to his family.

As Connor’s parents give up hope of ever seeing their son again, their daughter Ellen has married one of the survivors of the accident. This marriage she realizes is very tangled. Connor has no idea of the situations back home as he has found his way to residing in New York. But a chance meeting with a stranger will once again change his life forever. Those secrets he has kept buried for years once again will surface and he must decide what to reveal and what must be taken to his grave.

Home Stretch examines the true love of family as well as the forgiveness we have to not only absolve someone of mistakes, but liberate oneself from the horrible burdens some carry. But for others, their ego is too great and they would rather feel nothing rather than be free to live the life they truly want.

Norton’s novel deals with love, loss and pain. But in the end his most important lesson is that the truth will always set you free.

Thank you #NetGalley #HarperCollinsPublishers #GrahamNorton #HomeStretch for the advanced copy. The book will be coming out in late June.

Couple Found Slain: After a Family Murder by Mikita Brottman

Couple Found Slain is the true sad story of a family who was torn apart after the youngest son shot and killed his parents. But the tragedy had started long ago, with parents who were verbally and physically abusive to their children. But that unfortunately was not the end of this story. Quite honestly, it was only the beginning.

In 1992 a 22-year-old named Brian Bechtold walked into a police station and informed the police officer that he had killed his parents over two weeks prior in another state after hearing voices and believing them to be the devil telling him to kill them.

Brian was judged criminally insane and diagnosed with schizophrenia. He ended up at the Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center, a 250 in-patient facility. But Brian’s journey was far from over. As a matter of fact, unbeknownst to him it was only the beginning of a fight for his life.

Brian’s childhood was not the happiest. He and his siblings were constantly abused by non-caring parents who mentally and physically abused them almost on a daily basis. But for outsiders looking in that just was not the case. They saw a quiet husband who went to work as an engineer and a wife who took care of their growing family. As the years passed and Brian’s siblings moved out, their wrath, especially his father’s began to increase. With his mother ailing from a bout with breast cancer and continued failing health, Brian just snapped.

After his sentence he was placed in a maximum psychiatric hospital. As the years went by and through therapy and medication, Brian seemed to improve. He had begun to see other patients who had done similar or even far worse crimes being released back into society. But when he asked why he was not allowed to be released he was never really given a reason that made sense.

The Perkins Center was not exactly a proficient facility. Patients were improperly medicated, there were clashes with guards, nurses and even administrators, and there were confrontations with patients which included patients murdering each other. There was even an episode of a psychiatrist who worked at the center stalking an administrator.

When Brian questioned why he could not leave, they labeled him paranoid and just drugged him more until he began to refuse the medication. He was accused of trying to hurt guards and other patients. It seemed they wanted to keep insisting he was mentally ill. So when Brian heard from other patients that prison was actually a better facility than the Center, he decided to plan an escape in the hopes that he would end up in prison, thinking he would get a definite sentence and a release date would finally be possible. But that would not be the case.

Since then his mental state has remained stable and he has been trying to get himself released, even going to court and representing himself, something a mentally unstable person would certainly not be able to do.

This is not only the story about a mentally ill person killing his parents, but of how the system treats these individuals, even when they become a recovery story. What Brian did was reprehensible. But did he have some sort of psychotic break and through the years has fully recovered? If so, why are there no provisions put in place. Why should a patient who is no danger any more live in a facility where there is danger not only by other patients, but from the people who are suppose to protect them. Hopefully this book will shed some light on the problem and perhaps begin a series of changes.

Thank you #NetGalley #HenryHoltandCo. #MikitaBrottman #CoupleFoundSlain for the advanced copy. The book will be out in early July.

How Y’All Doing? by Leslie Jordan

Emmy award winning actor, Leslie Jordan, known for his outlandish character Beverly Leslie on Will and Grace and his stints on Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story series has been constantly working, minding his own business for many, many years. But that all changed when during the pandemic he became bored and discovered Instagram. And with one single tweet, “Well, shit. How y’all doing.” he became an instant hit on the social media platform and now has millions and millions of followers.

In his most recent book, How Y’All Doing, Jordan, in his perhaps long-winded, now where was I, funny tale teller way, writes essays about his life, family and acting career. From his love of ponies from a young age, the death of his father when he was very young and of his travels with some eccentric friends, he has mastered the art of storytelling.

In one essay he writes about meeting Carrie Fisher at an AA meeting and after having a discussion with her about his drinking and how it has affected his mother, it unbeknownst to him, led to a call from Debbie Reynolds to his mother, who of course thought the call was a joke!

He spends some of the book writing about the gossip and stories while he was working on the set of The Help with Emma Stone and Octavia Spencer. He also dishes the dirt on other acting gigs such as American Horror Story.

But, as in all lives, he also draws on his darker side as a young gay man trying to find himself and becoming addicted to drugs and alcohol. He explains that after his father was killed in the war his mother struggled to keep the family which included his twin sisters as well as himself together.

He writes with a sense of flair and sarcasm which he also exhibits while doing his Instagram posts. His stories might begin somewhere and veer, but they always come back to his main points and moral of the story. Although a short book, it is filled with sentimental, funny stories and gossip which are enjoyably interesting.