We gave it an A-
At first glance, O’Dell’s characters seem plucked from central casting: Ivan, the football star who breaks a leg, loses his pro football contract, and slips into a life of boozing and drifting; Jolene, his waitress sister with three kids by three different men; Val, the embittered Vietnam vet. But O’Dell masterfully guides them through life in a downtrodden Pennsylvania coal-mining town. As Ivan, now a sheriff’s deputy, waits for an old high school teammate to be released from prison, he confronts the secret that’s long been tugging at his conscience. O’Dell has come a long way since her first novel, ”Back Roads,” an Oprah pick; this is rich, compassionate storytelling.