Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Review: Missing Pieces by Susan Clayton-Goldner @SusanCGoldner

Missing Pieces
by Susan Clayton-Goldner
Published: April 17, 2019
Publisher: TirgearrPublishing
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, War


Lillianna Ferguson has spent the last twenty years pretending her father is dead. She moved to Oregon—far away from her childhood home in Delaware—changed her name from Emma to Lillianna and vowed never to go back.

When her brother, Greg, phones, begging her to come home to care for their father who has been diagnosed with a dangerous, aortic aneurysm, she is adamant in her refusal. When did he ever take care of her?

But Greg is equally stubborn in his arguments that she returns, as the surgeon at Johns Hopkins won’t repair the aneurysm without first amputating their father’s infected leg.

Calvin Miller, a disabled WWII veteran, survived a grenade that killed his best friend. It took off most of his right hand and left him with osteomyelitis in his leg, a bone-destroying infection, that refuses to heal. His surgeon believes his only chance for survival is amputation. The irony that his body is about to experience another explosion does not escape Lilianna.

Calvin, who has fought more than fifty years to save this leg, is adamant he will die the same way he lived—with both legs. Greg believes, if anyone can convince their father to have the amputation, it will be Lillianna.

Will she leave her safe life and reenter the minefield of her childhood?

My Review:

Lillianna Ferguson receives a phone call from her brother Greg begging her to come home and help him take care of their father. Their father Calvin Miller a disabled WWII veteran is in the hospital for an aortic aneurysm. The surgeon won’t repair his aneurysm without first amputating his leg. Greg thinks that if anyone can talk him into having his leg amputated then Lillianna can.

Calvin was injured by a grenade during the war that took most of his hand and left him with a bone-destroying infection. The surgeon believes that Calvin’s leg must be amputated if he is to survive the surgery to fix his aortic aneurysm. Calvin refuses to let them take his leg saying he lived with two legs so he would die with two legs.

Lillianna doesn’t want to go home and take care of her father as he never took care of her. Their father was a very abusive man when they were growing up. Lillianna hoping to put her childhood behind her and to forget it all left or more likely ran away as an adult which was something she couldn’t do as a child. Whatever the reason was that held her back from running away all those years ago which only she knows, maybe it was just fear. She changed her name from Emma to Lillianna after she left.

I’m guessing that Lillianna thought if she changed her name that she would no longer be that person and anything that happened to that little girl was not her and all of it happened to someone else. It was her way of dealing with it and pushing everything way down deep inside of her heart to harden it and if she could push it down far enough then all the pain would go away and it would be no more.

But after talking with her husband Steve he convinced her that she needed to go see her father and talk to him if she didn’t then she may regret it for the rest of her life. Steve was speaking from a similar experience of his own. So after her talk with Steve she decided to return home to help take care of her father.

Missing Pieces is Lillianna/Emma and her father’s stories. Lillianna sits by her father’s bedside and talks to him and ask him questions about his life when he was growing up and about his life with her mother. She asks him questions she never thought to ask him before or maybe couldn’t. She gets to know the man underneath the face that he puts on for the world the real Calvin Miller.

Missing Pieces is a heart-felt story that will have you grabbing for the tissue early on as the tears will be streaming down your face. Missing Pieces is a story that may have a lot of people thinking about their lives and the pieces that are missing in their own lives giving them hope in how to put their own pieces back together again. This is one review that is very difficult to write with all the different feelings coming from it. Missing Pieces is one of those stories that will tear you apart inside in more ways than one. It is a story that you will remember for many, many years.

Do I recommend Missing Pieces? Of course I do but I would like to give warning that it deals with some very tough subjects one of them being child abuse. 


Susan Clayton-Goldner was born in New Castle, Delaware and grew up with four brothers along the banks of the Delaware River. She is a graduate of the University of Arizona's Creative Writing Program and has been writing most of her life. Her novels have been finalists for The Hemingway Award, the Heeken Foundation Fellowship, the Writers Foundation and the Publishing On-line Contest. Susan won the National Writers' Association Novel Award twice for unpublished novels and her poetry was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Her work has appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies including Animals as Teachers and Healers, published by Ballantine Books, Our Mothers/Ourselves, by the Greenwood Publishing Group, The Hawaii Pacific Review-Best of a Decade, and New Millennium Writings. A collection of her poems, A Question of Mortality was released in 2014 by Wellstone Press. Prior to writing full time, Susan worked as the Director of Corporate Relations for University Medical Center in Tucson, Arizona. 

Susan shares a life in Grants Pass, Oregon with her husband, Andreas, her fictional characters, and more books than one person could count. 

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