Life on Alaska’s Yatki Island is simple and peaceful for fisherman Ray Bancroft, a widower who’s raising his 11-year-old granddaughter, Sitka. At the mercy of his latest catch and the occasional fishing tourist, Ray ekes out a meager living surrounded by a close knit community and the granddaughter he adores. His life is largely complete.
But a good writer knows there’s no story in content characters, so author Dan Berne throws a few wrenches into Captain Ray’s quiet little world.
It all starts when Ray’s estranged daughter, Jenny, announces she’s coming home after her latest prison stint. Jenny promises she’s reformed herself for real this time. Not only has she found Jesus, she’s clean and sober and anxious to start raising Sitka, the daughter she barely knows.
But Ray’s relationship with Jenny is built on years of mistrust and bitterness, and he’s reluctant to hand Sitka over to an ex-addict with a prison record and no job. To make matters worse, Sitka’s father, a local thug with an extensive criminal history, also returns to the island intent on setting up housekeeping with Jenny and his long lost child.
Ray’s determined to protect Sitka and soon finds himself embroiled in a legal battle in which his granddaughter, his fishing boat, and his livelihood are at stake.
What I love about this story is its unassuming premise, and the humble characters that live ordinary lives in the unforgiving Alaskan landscape. Ray’s story is one that could happen to anybody, and I was rooting for him from the opening scene. As Berne layered on the complications, Ray’s plight drew me in further, right up through the riveting climax and the grim but poignant conclusion.
The Gods of Second Chances is a story of love and family loyalty. It’s about righting past wrongs, letting go of resentment, and ultimately, forgiveness. Publisher Laura Stanfill of Forest Avenue Press promises readers “quiet books for a noisy world,” and that’s exactly what this novel delivers.