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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Endings a Tragedy for Thinking Readers

Title: Endings
Author: Barbara Bergin
ISBN: ISBN: 978-0-86534-519-5
268 pp.
Available: Sunstone Press, Amazon
Box 2321, Santa Fe,
NM 87504-2321
(800) 243-5644

Reviewed by Connie Gotsch

Endings by Barbara Bergin, published by Sunstone Press, appears to chronicle the responses people make to life altering situations somewhat beyond their control, but to which they have also somewhat contributed. Then again, maybe the story deals with the fabrications people spin to rationalize the life choices they make.

Stunned by the loss of her husband and two children in a freak automobile accident, Dr. Leslie Cohen has sold her medical practice, abandoned friends, hit the road as a locum tenens orthopedic physician, and stopped forming long term relationships.

Through a series of flashbacks triggered by events, characters and plot points, the reader learns, or seems to learn, why love terrifies Leslie. She was tailgating her husband, Chris, as they headed for a family holiday. The driver ahead of him slammed on his brakes, Chris hit his, and Leslie plowed into him, killing him and her children. Guilt and consumes her, especially since she had Chris had hit a difficult point in their marriage.

Many books on the theme of carelessness at the worst moment resulting in painful loss, would lead Leslie into a nice, comfy small town, where friendly people would wrap her in warmth. Next Leslie would go through personal growth and transformation. She would find herself in the company of a handsome man with whom she shares much, but would fight her growing love for him. His patience would win her over. She would work through her grief, forgive herself for her part in the accident, marry the hero, and go into practice with the doctor whom she has come to relieve as a locum tenens.

Endings sets up that possibility. Leslie heads to Abilene, Texas, to substitute for Doc Hal Hawley who is preparing to have serious cancer surgery. Then almost to town, she slides into a fishtailing horse trailer driven by Reagan, the man who ends up her love interest. That could set ‘Endings’ on the predictable course, love marriage, more children, happily ever after. But using this twist and many others, Barbara Bergin slowly turns the story’s plot to a very different kind of growth and closure for Leslie.

So cleverly does the author disguise this arc in the predictable moonlit nights and kind souls one would expect to try to help Leslie, that the tale ends with a surprise that leaves the reader shaken and wondering just what Leslie’s part in her own tragedy was, or just what happened on the road that day tailgating Chris, and what transpired afterward, considering the state of their marriage.

Barbara Bergin supplements her clever plot line with elegant character development and description of locale. An orthopedic surgeon herself and a horse woman, she takes the reader both into the operating room and the rodeo area with equal vividness. Her medical descriptions never turn gory. Her description of love has just the right amount of steam.

‘Endings’ is not a book that will give the satisfaction of a happy conclusion, but it will leave the reader considering just genuine people really are, and what they might or might not control in their lives.

Reviewer Connie Gotsch is the author of "A Mouth Full of Shell" and "Snap Me a Future" published by Dlsijpress. She is featured in "The Complete Writer's Journal" Also available at or

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