By Jacquelyn Mitchard

A negative coincidence has left little Keefer orphaned yet no longer undesirable. Devastated by means of his cherished sister's tragic loss of life, twenty-four-year-old bachelor Gordon McKenna assumes that he'll be entrusted with elevating his niece, whom he has grown tremendous just about over the few necessary months of Keefer's lifestyles. however the kid's paternal grandparents have diversified ideas—and a fierce felony conflict ensues that would try out the means and boundaries of family members love repeatedly . . . and not anyone will emerge from it unscathed or unchanged. Jacquelyn Mitchard, whose strong, emotionally wealthy novels have gained resounding serious acclaim and a large, enthusiastic viewers world wide, brings us a hovering, heartbreaking, and unforgettable story of affection and the bonds that unite us all.

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And for special grace, I thank Rosie, Bob, and Scott. Theory[i–xii] 6/5/01 11:56 AM Page viii Theory[i–xii] 6/5/01 11:56 AM Page ix How swiftly the strained honey of afternoon light flows into darkness and the closed bud shrugs off its special mystery in order to break into blossom as if what exists, exists so that it can be lost and become precious. — L I S E L M U E L L E R , “In Passing” The chief merit of the name “relativity” is in reminding us that a scientist is unavoidably a participant in the system he is studying.

Ray . . oh Ray, and what the side pillar of the windshield had done. Ray. He could not focus on what bobbed on the shallow stream at the corner of his field of vision, the long strip of purple fabric embroidered with gold stars, his sister’s shirt. Gordon began to cry. Two of the officers ambled over, reached out, and in the stiff-limbed fashion of men of his father’s generation, patted his back, and Gordon fought down the strong desire to hide his face against their barrel chests and sob.

Tapes of Georgia reading aloud or singing the lullabies she crooned rocking Keefer to sleep, old songs such as “You Are My Sunshine” and that old Irish song about wild mountain thyme and the blooming heather. The video camera on its tripod was still set up in the corner, pointed at the bed. She had seen Georgia walking the baby, while Georgia could still walk on her own, back and forth in front of the camera’s lens in her stroller, or sitting Keefer up on her shoulders, the baby, still far too little then to really manage this, slumped over the top of her mother’s head like a rag doll.

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