In the fall of 1999, psychologist Sophia Beckman is compelled by the court to give testimony on behalf of a death row inmate that results in his sentence being overturned. Haunted by secrets from her past, she avoids the media spotlight as much as possible, but soon, other prisoners’ families come seeking her assistance. One family in particular, the wife, children, and brother of Jarrett Capshaw, is especially insistent. Forty-one days ago Jarrett’s request to die was granted by the State of Texas, and he became a dead man walking, a man they call a volunteer.
Jarrett’s crimes were unusual, involving the theft of precious Mayan antiquities. Murder was never part of the plan, but murder is what happened. He pulled the trigger, and as little as he feels prepared for it, as much as he struggles with matters of the soul, he’s ready to die. It is the only way his family and the families of his victims will be free to move on. While Jarrett labors to find the words to say good-bye to those he has loved, Sophia finds herself drawn into a relationship with his wife and oldest son. It is Jarrett’s family she can’t resist and there will be a price to pay. But not even Sophia could have foreseen the outcome when the brutal truth is exposed, the unalloyed facts that, incredibly, will deliver Jarrett’s fate straight into her hands.
The Volunteer is a story about families, how they are made, and how in one single, horrifying instant, they can be broken. It is a story about mothers and the lies they tell to protect their children, to keep them from being hurt. But what happens when the truth comes out anyway and nothing and no one is spared? Sometimes the truth has the power to break your heart, and in Sophia’s case it will also endanger her freedom and threaten everything she has ever believed about her life.
Barbara Taylor Sissel writes issue oriented, upmarket women’s fiction that is threaded with elements of suspense and defined by its particular emphasis on how crime affects the family. Next to writing books she loves to edit them, and with more than fifteen years in the profession, both as a bestselling author and as a developmental editor, she's got experience. Contact her via her website if you're interested. Please include the details of your fiction project (a brief summary and total word count) for more information and her availability.
The Volunteer is a story about capital punishment, but more importantly it is a story about how the action of one individual affects so many others. It is a story well told and woven through with issues of betrayal, love, childhood innocence, and complex family relationships. Without tossing in a spoiler I can say there are heart-wrenching scenes that are portrayed without pulling punches, yet Sissel never loses the feel of sensitivity. The Volunteer is told in a language that is rich and flows beautifully, and it is a story that definitely gives pause for thought. 5 Stars.
would prefer to give it 2 1/2 stars but will go with two. A very slow start for me and found myself wondering where the author was going with the story. There were so many stories intertwined in this one that it became confusing. In the end, the author did end up surprising me and I ended up liking it more than I did in the beginning
I got halfway through and gave up. The main character is a counselor and is the most self-absorbed person ever. Definitely not what you want in a counselor. Every problem she hears about, all she can think is how it affects her, or how she is struggling with something similar. This is a self-published book and it shows. It is in desperate need of a good editor. The grammar is bad, the pacing is bad, the main character repeats her inner monologue ad nauseam. The plot is terrible. Everything was bad.
Everyone around her is going through a difficult time, some of them actually life and death issues. But they all spill their every thought and feeling to this random stranger. And then, like the world’s worst counselor that she is, she goes around to the other family members and tells them what the others said. Wow.
The Volunteer by Barbara Taylor Sissel Published by Author ASIN: B005WKCZGA At the request of author, Barbara Taylor Sissel, a Kindle Edition was gifted, at no cost to be, for my honest opinion.
Synopsis (from Amazon): In the fall of 1999, psychologist Sophia Beckman is compelled by the court to give testimony on behalf of a death row inmate that results in his sentence being overturned. Haunted by secrets from her past, she avoids the media spotlight as much as possible, but soon, other prisoners' families come seeking her assistance. One family in particular, the wife, children, and brother of Jarrett Capshaw, is especially insistent. Forty-one days ago Jarrett's request to die was granted by the State of Texas, and he became a dead man walking, a man they call a volunteer.
Jarrett's crimes were unusual, involving the theft of precious Mayan antiquities. Murder was never part of the plan, but murder is what happened. He pulled the trigger, and as little as he feels prepared for it, as much as he struggles with matters of the soul, he's ready to die. It is the only way his family and the families of his victims will be free to move on. While Jarrett labors to find the words to say good-bye to those he has loved, Sophia finds herself drawn into a relationship with his wife and oldest son. It is Jarrett's family she can't resist and there will be a price to pay. But not even Sophia could have foreseen the outcome when the brutal truth is exposed, the unalloyed facts that, incredibly, will deliver Jarrett's fate straight into her hands.
The Volunteer is a story about families, how they are made, and how in one single, horrifying instant, they can be broken. It is a story about mothers and the lies they tell to protect their children, to keep them from being hurt. But what happens when the truth comes out anyway and nothing and no one is spared? Sometimes the truth has the power to break your heart, and in Sophia's case it will also endanger her freedom and threaten everything she has ever believed about her life.
My Thoughts and Opinion: This is the second book I read by this author, the first being The Ninth Step. I am always a bit skeptical reading follow up novels by an author, especially when I enjoyed the first one as much as I did with The Ninth Step. Will it be as good? Will it have the same quality writing? Will I once again be able to connect with the characters? Are my expectations too high for the second book? Or could the first book have been a "one hit wonder"?
Barbara Taylor Sissel is an amazing author and I can't say enough about her work. It is phenomenal. She writes about complex emotional and moral issues and weaves in flawed and life like characters into a suspenseful story that leaves the reader with thought provoking thoughts. The Volunteer is a book that will stay with the reader long after the last word is read. The author's writing style is so detailed and fluid that the reader feels that they are present in the plot and characters' lives. Full of emotions that are palpable. A story that the reader becomes invested in that it is hard to put down. A novel full of family relationship dynamics and how the past and lies can affect the future with dire consequences. Heart wrenching!! The suspense has twists and turns but I found myself more involved with the characters and that the suspense was a subplot. Would I recommend this book? Absolutely!! But, more so, I would recommend this author!! Her work is brilliant!!
My Rating: 5
(2012 Challenges: Romantic/Suspense, EBook, Mystery/Suspense, Off The Shelf, Just For Fun, FreeReads, Where Are You, A-Z, I Want More, 52 in 52, Outdo Yourself, 100+)
The Volunteer is a beautifully written tale of family, redemption, love, sacrifice and the freedom that truth can bring.
A volunteer is someone on death row who forgoes all further appeals and asks to have his execution date set. Jarrett Capshaw is one such volunteer and The Volunteer revolves around what this decision does to both his own life and his family's. Dr. Sophie Beckman is the psychologist who becomes intrinsically involved with the Capshaw family in her efforts to help Jarret's wife Grace, his eldest son Thomas & his brother Cort in coping with Jarrett's decision.
This is a book about secrets & betrayal & how they can destroy lives. But it is also a book about how the truth can finally set you free. There are so many secrets, so much betrayal. Whilst Sophia is trying desperately to help the Capshaw's, she has heartbreaking secrets of her own. But Sophia has also been betrayed, and it is through the truth of Sophia's life that the entire existences of both the Capshaw and Beckman families are finally brought together forever.
The characters in this novel are beautifully written, as is the prose. Comparisons could easily be made to the writing style of Jodie Picoult. I felt so intrinsically involved in each of the characters' lives. I loved them, I laughed for them, and my heart broke for them. The plot itself is unique to anything I've read before, and the ending definitely took me by surprise.
The Volunteer is a definite recommendation for those that love Jodie Picoult or similar authors.
This story is amazing, really makes you think even after you've finished it. True, the story focuses on Sophia, a psychologist, and her angst about possibly getting involved with another Death Row inmate. She works with the family in overt ways, never meeting Jarrett Capshaw himself. She carries her own secrets. I loved that the book tells the story from different timelines, it makes the story and the characters more real. But in the end, what I took away from this book was a very important message Jarrett relates.....it's not about being forgiven by others, but about forgiving ourselves. We carry the burden of blame, shame and guilt around everyday, maybe waiting or worrying that we've wronged someone else. But in the end, we can't really move on until we forgive ourselves.
As I've found in the past, Barbara Taylor Sissel writes in a way that will make you think....
Be sure you're in the mood for a lot of drama when you pick up this book.
The story centers on Jarrett and Sophia. Jarrett is a man on death row who had voluntarily given up all his appeals, and is awaiting the day, to the consternation of his family. Sophia is a psychologist who previously handled a death row case that resulted to a stay in execution. Although Sophia will not be an expert witness for Jarrett, their lives will cross in a most unexpected way.
It is true what is said: that truth, no matter how hard one tries to hide it, will always surface. But no matter how difficult it is to face the truth, in time, it will set off a clean path to freedom.
started off kinda slow, but seems it was just getting started, really liked the story line once it got going, and although sad, the ending was very appropicate. would have given 5 stars except for the slow start. Loved the characters and the build up of interplay between them...still...
This is the second book I've read by this author, and both are about forgiveness. This book is based on a big coincidence, which happens ...or is meant to happen which makes it no coincidence, but it always seems too convenient when it is the basis for a story. Still, this book was very thought provoking. We all make mistakes. If we are lucky, they are small mistakes with small consequences for ourselves and others. I don't believe we should live in regret, but if we don't have regrets to work through we are probably narcissistic, selfish jerks. This book really brought those points home. I don't want to leave any spoilers here so I will only comment that characters in this book had a lot to forgive of themselves and others. I would have given this book 5 stars but I was extremely irritated at the liberties taken by the author in glossing over the ethics of therapists for sake of the story. POSSIBLE SPOILER: Ethical therapists don't even consider dating current patients, or keep seeing a patient who sees them professionally just to build a relationship with them. The author even made it sound like a potentially healthy relationship in the works. That whole storyline was not necessary, anyway. The rest of the book, the main ideas, writing, pacing, character development: excellent.
A death row inmate decides that he does not want to fight his sentence. This is the story about his family’s attempts to change his mind. But the real main chat is a woman who is a psychologist and has all kids of complications in her life including her connections to the condemned man. There are so many twists and drama in the relationships, it’s like prime daytime TV material. The story was supposed to make you consider your feelings about the death penalty. It did not do much in presenting a case either way.
I thought I knew where this story was going but it threw me a curve ball. I guess I'm glad it turned out that way but it just threw me off. As a mother of 3 who also had a hard childhood myself, it was tough to read without crying at some points but overall i thought it was a great story, something different.
A poignant story of humanity. A girl, A baby, families. Love, hate, and everything in between. A sad tale laced with happiness from times past to current times. A story, this reader feels, is really about forgiveness and hope. A truly great read which will sit with me for a very long time.
This was ok. Nothing to brag about. A guy who committed a crime. Gets tired of being a burden upon his family. And instead of waiting to die. He volunteers to be executed. This way his family will be clear of his sin and be able to move on with their lives.
I can't read enough of her books. Going on to another one. Sissel's books keep me turning pages and then I'm sad when it's over. Amazing author. Well thought out characters (it's like I've known them forever), plot twists that you just don't see coming, great prose. Touches at the heart of what a writer should be and what a reader wants most!
I was not familiar with the term “volunteer” when used to refer to prison inmates who had abandoned the appeals process, so this book opened up a whole new world to me. The main character of the book is Jarrett Capshaw, who is on death row in a Texas prison because of an unusual crime. Involved in the theft of Mayan antiquities, Capshaw found himself pulling the trigger and killing someone who he had no intention of killing. As much as he feels prepared for it, and as much as he struggles with matters of the soul, Jarrett feels he is ready to die because he feels it is the only way his family and the families of his victims will be free to move on. With 41 days left until he is scheduled to die, Sophia, a psychologist who previously handled a death row case that resulted in a stay of execution, finds herself drawn into a relationship with his wife and oldest son. It’s Jarrett’s family she can’t resist, and there will be a price to pay, but even Sophia couldn’t have foreseen the outcome when the brutal truth is exposed, the unalloyed facts that, incredibly, will deliver Jarrett’s fate straight into her hands. This is a richly told story with characters that are complex and thoughtful, places that are real, and conversations that ring true and meaningful. This is also a story about families, how they are made, and how in one single, horrifying instant, they can be broken. It’s a story about mothers and the lies they tell to protect their children to keep them from being hurt, but what happens when the truth comes out anyway, and nothing and no one is spared. You’ll find that sometimes the truth has the power to break your heart and might just change everything you have ever believed in your life.
***draft**** Some authors write a story for the story, and readers find the morals later. Other writers begin with morals and scaffold a story around around their message. The message Sissel began with is clear throughout the book, and is further confirmed by the included discussion questions at the end of the book. The themes of forgiveness and acceptance are stirring and noble, as they need be to support to the weak character development and story. Relying on suspension of disbelief the novel presents a series of coincidences, which would be statistically amazing given a population of hundreds, to say nothing of the actual likelihood of such interconnections. The book unfolds through a whirlwind of jumps between time and place, yet even as the reader sews these threads together, the characters do not develop but jump from belief to belief. We are first introduced to a strained relationship between mother and daughter, and conclude with a supportive and forgiving relationship. Yet, the change is sudden and no growth is actually shown. What requires an even greater suspension of rational belief is the ease with which characters forgive each other for such major atrocities as drug and child abuse, abandonment, murder and theft. It is clear that the most difficult and most important forgiveness is self-forgiveness, yet with character reconciliation coming so quickly and easily it seems unreal, I am left wondering if forgiveness of self is ever truly obtainable. This reads more like a rough draft, which could be greatly improved by further detailing how changes came to be, not to mention giving characters more depth.
This was a pretty good read. Sophia is a doctor that deals with mental health issues. Yes you guessed it she is a psychologist/psychiatrist. During one of her sessions with a patient she realized that he had kidnapped a child and was holding him hostage to do terrible things to him. She contacted the police and he wound up on death row. She used her skills to get him off death row and was able to change his sentence to life in prison. When Cort comes to her house and offers to give her a quote to paint her house, Sophia doesn't realize what that one encounter will do to the only life she has known. Secrets from the past are revealed, along with betrayal.
It was a great plot line and the ending was emotional. The characters were well developed and likeable. The relationships seems real and current. It moved along pretty well, although a few of the background scenes moved a bit slow for me. Not sure why. I liked it.
Didn't expect to like this book. Started reading it while reading another 2 books at the same time and I kept leaving it and couldn't get into it. After finishing the other 2 novels I decided I had to finish this one before I started anything new. I read it in about 3 sittings, the bulk of it in one.
It is the story of family, betrayal, forgivness and strength. It starts out with a brother trying to help his brother who is on death row and has decided to forgo anymore appeals or legal manouvers to get a stay of execution. He volunteers to die hence the title. The brother seeks out a woman, a physcologist, who helped another death row inmate get off death row and he hopes she will be able to help his brother. Their families intertwine and long buried secrets come to light.
It is very interesting but predictible in some areas but a good read.
This book was a jolly good read. I liked the story; it moved from holding my interest to being hard to put down. The last couple of chapters are tear jerkers.
There were occasional editing errors but the story was strong enough to carry through.
My mother downloaded The Volunteer as a free book on Kindle. She reads extensively and this novel is one of the few she has insisted is a must read. I'm glad she did. We'll both be reading more of Barbara Taylor Sissel.
The Volunteer is a story about Sophia, a psychologist, a death row inmate, Jarrett Capshaw, and his family. But mostly it is about Sophia, the secret that has haunted her all her adult life and how her interaction with the Capshaw family impacts on that. There are some surprises along the way.
I had mixed feelings regarding this book. I kept wanting to really, really like it, but I got bored. The story was pretty good, so I read it to the end to see what happened. This is the reason for the 3 stars. It bounced back and forth between moving along quickly, and then got stuck in the mire of description. As well, there were way too many "rabbit trails" or side stories that the author would follow. First we are reading about Sophia's background, then we are on to the 2037 Mayan Codex. There was a point between the two, however, it didn't flow easily to get there.
I read it mostly to find out everyone's secrets. I guessed the major plot twist laughably early on (no really, I was like, oh, she had a baby that she thinks died? But doesn't know where it's buried? Other dude is adopted and no one knows who his parents are? CLEARLY HE IS HER SON) and I was just like why don't these people think about things. I found certain characters and viewpoints realllly annoying. I enjoyed Sophia & Carolyn's relationship and her gentleman friend and she did a good job of making me want to know the character's secrets, but it just wasn't great.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
An ambitious endeavor but I'm afraid it fell short. The characters were flat and I just couldn't relate or are about them. In addition, the part that was supposed to be a surprise twist turned out to be an all-too-convenient ending. I'm not sure why I waded through this. It took me weeks to read it. I just have a hard time abandoning a book once I've started it, even though that is stupid and a waste of time. OCD, I guess. :/
This book is my new favorite book! I usually am not too captivated by prison book, but this was perfection. Sissel wrote this book so well. There are twists & turns throughout the entire book that you would never expect. I really just can't rave enough about this book, but if I write more I'm going to tell you the whole story! You will not regret reading this book. I'm sad I'm already finished!!!!! GREAT JOB Barbara!!
The book itself moved quickly. But I couldn't get around the fact that the central character was a practicing psychologist who would be disbarred if she were a real life character. She has inappropriate personal ties to her whole caseload and doesn't seem to recognize how unprofessional her bahavior is. Nor does anyone else. For that reason, I can only give it two stars.