Leila Meacham's first novel Roses was a wonderful read, and many wondered if she would be able to do it again with her second novel. Well Tumbleweeds is just as good as Roses and Meacham is on her way to a long and successful career. Once again she has created a decades spanning story that is peopled with beautifully drawn characters who move into the readers' lives and stay there for the duration of the book.
The story is about three semi-orphans. Cathy lives with her grandmother after her parents die in an accident. John's mother is dead and his father is an alcoholic. Trey was abandoned by his mother and his father is dead. John lives with his father but spends most of his time with Trey who lives with his aunt. The two boys enter Cathy's life when she is brought to Kersey, Texas to live with her grandmother. They form a quick bond that lasts throughout their lives.
Over several decades their lives take more than a few twists but one thing seems certain, John and Trey both love Cathy and she loves them both back, but it is Trey and Cathy who are in love. John appears to be ever the outsider who takes a step back in the competition for Cathy's heart.
This love triangle plays out against the backdrop of a town that is obsessively involved with football - high school football. Trey and John are the stars of the team and this makes them gods in the small Texas town. Cathy is there to cheer them on and this makes her part of the golden circle surrounding them. Still in this story the gods have feet of clay and when they fall from on high they fall completely.
Leila Meacham has firm control of her story and knows exactly where it is going and how it is going to get there. She includes murder, passion, heartbreak and revenge in her tale and keeps the reader hanging on every word.
We don't get many books of this type that include events that would make any soap opera proud. It is a look behind the curtains at the dirty little secrets one small town can have. It opens up the rotten underbelly beneath the façade of respectability but it never glorifies the darkness. Meacham just tells it like it is in this world she has created.
Readable and enjoyable are the two words that best describe Tumbleweeds. It is a worthy follow up to Roses, and that is high praise.
Tumbleweeds is published by Grand Central Publishing. It contains 470 pages and sells for $25.99.