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October 6, 2013

THE MOURNING HOURS by Paula Treick DeBoard


Paula Treick DeBoard

The Mourning Hours
Published June 25th 2013 by Harlequin MIRA
(first published January 1st 2013)

(from Goodreads)

A family's loyalty is put to the ultimate test in this haunting and unforgettable debut.

Kirsten Hammarstrom hasn't been home to her tiny corner of rural Wisconsin in years-not since the mysterious disappearance of a local teenage girl rocked the town and shattered her family. Kirsten was just nine years old when Stacy Lemke went missing, and the last person to see her alive was her boyfriend, Johnny-the high school wrestling star and Kirsten's older brother. No one knows what to believe-not even those closest to Johnny-but the event unhinges the quiet farming community and pins Kirsten's family beneath the crushing weight of suspicion.

Now, years later, a new tragedy forces Kirsten and her siblings to return home, where they must confront the devastating event that shifted the trajectory of their lives. Tautly written and beautifully evocative, The Mourning Hours is a gripping portrayal of a family straining against extraordinary pressure, and a powerful tale of loyalty, betrayal and forgiveness.(

The author, Ms. DeBoard has written her debut novel but I am sure there will be more.  She is such a talented writer and it would be a shame not to put it to work.  Then we'd have another great story to read from her.  In this book, Johnny Hammarstrom was dating Stacy Lemke, when she disappeared.  Stacy thought Johnny was the boy for her and did everything she could to keep it that way.The Hammarstrom family was ripped apart after Stacy disappeared. Kirsten was only nine years old and everyday it runs through her mind.  Every member of the family was marked by the events, everyone in different ways.It all happened on a cold, snowy winter night when they were going home from the movies and dinner.  Johnny's car broke down and it was snowing but Stacy decided she would walk home.  She never gets home and Johnny was the last one to see her.  Where is she?  Everyone in the town avoid the family like they have the plague.  They have fear in their eyes.  They lock their doors at night.  the church is even trying to make the Hammarstrom family feel guilty. The investigation into Stacy's disappearance turns up nothing.  There is not a shred of evidence that puts any light on Johnny.  That isn't good enough for the town.  They won't let the Hammarstrom's go back to living a normal life. t
Things will never be right for the family.  All the hopes and dreams have been blackened.  There is no brightness in their lives.  the plans they may have had, even if they went through with them, wouldn't turn out right. Life can be ugly and when it rears it's ugly head, there are some hard lessons to be learned. The author wrote with such a flowing of words.  The story, the characters were so very real.  The Hammarstrom's could have been your neighbor.  I believe the author wrote the story in such a way that lessons were there that everybody should take heed to.  Life will throw everything evil and bad at you sometimes and turn your life upside down.  What do you do?   What can you do?  One thing is for sure, this town that Johnny and his family lived in were not good Christians.  The Church wouldn't even have anything to do with them.  That is evil.  I don't have much else to say except that the author wrote a wonderful book that I intend to keep and put on my library shelf to keep.  I must say that the cover is wonderful.  So reader,  just remember when someone is thought to have done wrong, don't snub them.  They may be innocent.  Then how will you feel.  Lower than low.  So readers take yourself and pick up a copy.  Walk with the  Hammarstroms and feel the stares at your back or their backs at your face.  Keep writing, Ms. DeBoard.  You have a gift, a gift of story telling and writing.

I would give this book 5 STARS.

I won the book, THE MOURNING HOURS by Paula Treick DeBoard in a special contest at  The review is my own personal view of the book.

Paula Treick DeBoard is a reader, writer and all-around slave to the field of public education. She earned a B.A. in English from Dordt College in 1998 and thought, “I’ll teach high school English during the week and write fiction on the weekends” – a delusion which persisted for a decade, during which time she wrote exactly one short story. In 2010, she graduated from the University of Southern Maine with an MFA degree in Creative Writing (Fiction) and a rediscovered passion for staring at a laptop screen for long hours. Her fiction has since appeared in deCOMP, Cantaraville, The Shine Journal, Staccato Fiction and The Sycamore Review, where her short story “Casualties” placed second in the 2009 Wabash Prize for Fiction, judged by Tobias Wolff. In some cases, her work appeared in venues that have since closed – although she is certain these two facts are unrelated.

No stranger to long-form writing, Paula wrote her first novels as a passenger in the backseat of a 1977 Chevrolet Caprice Classic station wagon, where her parents let her jostle around for thousands of miles unprotected by a seatbelt. Sadly, these books were lost to cross-country moves and spilled contraband cans of soda. The Mourning Hours, sold to Harlequin MIRA in a two-book deal, is her first novel to survive.

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