The Ones Who Matter Most. Rachel Herron. New American Library/Penguin Publishing Group. April 2016. 342 pp. ISBN#: 978451476760.
Abby Roberts is beyond infuriated when she discovers that her husband, Scott, had a vasectomy after she had three miscarriages. After uttering four words to him, he slams into the bathroom when Abby hears a crash and then silence. Ten minutes later, Scott is dead, the victim of a massive heart attack. The feelings that race through Abby’s heart and head in the days that follow defy description.
Imagine her shock anew when she finds pictures that reveal Scott was once married to Fern and had a son, Mattie. So she does what very few women would have done; she sets out to Fern’s home. The initial reception is cool and awkward indeed, ending with an invitation to Fern and Mattie to attend Scotts funeral and cremation. Here begins a story fraught with ambivalence, suspicion, anger, neediness, rejection and acceptance.
Fern drives a public bus for a living but can barely pay her bills and now without Scott’s child support she’s in a desperate situation. She has overwhelmingly mixed feelings about Abby and surely doesn’t understand why Abby wants to get to know Mattie better. Mattie, however, gradually will warm up to Abby, but Fern is determined that Abby will never have her son’s total loyalty and devotion as much as she does.
The essence of this unusual story is the tormented journey both Abby and Fern must experience that is really more about grieving for Scott and the past and learning to trust again. Abby seems a more generous, forgiving character but she also is financially safe enough that she’s not as worn out with fear and apprehension about the future. Both women have been betrayed and still have feelings for Scott which they must work through. Eventually, the bond they forge is unbreakable and both become open to new possibilities with men and their place in the larger work world.
Rachel Herron does a superb job of crafting a tense, volatile story with just enough tenderness to keep both women from eternal bitterness, choosing instead to embrace trust. It’s about allowing relationships that normally would never develop to go where they must. Romance, mystery and hope will rule the day after one can let go of the past enough to bloom like those flowers and plants that Abby so naturally grows and nurtures into birth. Very nicely done, Rachel Herron!