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A Watershed Year

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  2,819 ratings  ·  235 reviews
Praise for A Watershed Year:

Susan Schoenberger takes us to the softer places of the heart where love in all its forms and glory transforms grief into grace. Patti Callahan Henry, New York Times bestselling author of Driftwood Summer

Lucy never confessed her love to her best friend Harlan before he passed away. Two months after his funeral, she is haunted by the power of
Kindle Edition, Reprint Edition, 298 pages
Published November 26th 2013 by Lake Union Publishing (first published March 1st 2011)
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Average rating 3.75  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,819 ratings  ·  235 reviews

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Andrea Cox
by Andrea Renee Cox

How would you manage the grief and blessings of a watershed year?

A Watershed Year by Susan Schoenberger is an exquisite tale of heart-wrenching grief and the joy that blossoms in the midst of the deepest pain. The author's voice was unique. I particularly enjoyed her perspective (the things she chose to point out in any given scene), analogies (fresh; not cliche), and how she drew on emotions with each new twist of the storyline.

Since I listened to the audio version, I would
Nov 05, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adoption, fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Amara Campbell
Oct 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Every sentence of this book is lyrical and evocative, wrapping grief in a padding of beautifully crafted sentences that allow you to follow the journey with your heart involved but intact. This story is equal parts melancholic, wise, challenging and funny. It seems impossible that this is Susan's first novel, the tenderness and love poured into rounding out each character and allowing them to interact organically seems more likely the work of a seasoned author.

This is not a heavy read, but not a
Dec 26, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I am probably being a little harsh with my 2 star rating but i was disappointed buy this book. I just loved the concept of the main character recieving emails from the grave after a friend dies and think the entire book could have centered around that.

There was about 10 pages in the book that i enjoyed reading and the rest was just average. I thought the main character seemed to jump into her quest to have a child and then seemed to make stupid decisions in her quest to adopt.

I think there is a
Sara Strand
Before I get into my review I will tell you that I liked the book. Is this a book I would grab off my shelf and re-read? Probably not, but mostly because I feel like I understood all aspects of the book enough that re-reading it wouldn't help me understand anything any better.

I kind of loved Harlan's character and wished he had more time in the book. I realized he dies almost right away and that is what kicks off the rest of the novel, but I felt like he could have been used more, if that makes
Feb 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, adoption, loss
What a great story! I was hooked after reading the first chapter. It's the story of Lucy (30 single something) who is in transition after losing Harlan (her dearest & closest friend to cancer) decides to make some major changes in her life -- such as adopting a 4 year old boy from Russia. Interesting and touching surprises throughout. Brought tears to my eyes.
Mar 03, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a great story. It shows how people who are under duress can freak out, panic, and still make decisions that move them forward in a positive way. Reading this made me remember some watershed years in my life when, in the space of 12 months or less, my entire life changed. I'd definitely recommend this book.
Sam B
I really wanted to like this book. I had been wanting to read it for quite a while, but honestly it let me down.

This book wasn't what I was expecting. Reading the blurb, I thought after her friend Harlan's death, Lucy was going to adopt a little boy and the book would be about that relationship evolving.
Unfortunately, this only happens more than halfway through the book. I found the first half to be very slow and honestly a bit boring. Aside from Harlan's emails that come once a month and the
Linda Bouley
I was charmed by Susan Schoenberger's first novel - the writing is lovely and the story is unique and captivating. Most of us have had one or more watershed years, a year when our perspectives shift, the reality of our lives change by chance or effort and the road going forward looks different than we thought it would. As the book opens, Lucy's best friend, Harlen, has just died of cancer at age 33, and she is grieving not just the loss of him, but the truth that she was in love with him and ...more
Lydia Presley
Original review posted here

People, this is not a little book. It’s 320 pages long. I started reading it at 9:30pm thinking I’d get a few chapters in. Next thing I knew I was closing the book and looking at my clock where the time of 4:30am was looking at me with accusation. I haven’t stayed up like that to read a book in one setting, or I should say, to read an adult book in one setting, in… never.

I was simply blown away by this story. Susan Schoenberger flawlessly moves between the past and
Diane D White
Nov 10, 2014 rated it liked it
A Good Author's Heartfelt But Insubstantial Early Work

Had I not previously read another very well done and touching later novel by this author, I might not have felt the lack of compelling emotional depth in this one so much. The story elements are, after all, built upon the deepest emotions most of us can feel. Yet I consistently felt only an intellectual engagement with this book's themes of imperfect relationships, yearnings for love, grief, healing, and stubborn hope for better. It was a
Feb 06, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
Interesting and everything, but felt a bit amateurish. It read like something I could write, to be honest, which is not really a compliment. Some of the characters seemed a bit flat, a bit two-dimensional (Harlan in particular), so it was hard to have the kind of sympathy for them that I think I was supposed to have. Some of it seemed sort of heavy-handed, or maybe just lacking in nuance, in subtlety: the perfect example of this is that she mentions Lucy's "watershed year" at least seven or ...more
May 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
A Watershed Year was a recommended book here by a friends on Goodreads. I really enjoyed this wonderful story of a thirty-something professor named Lucy and the story starts off with the loss of her best friend Harlan. This is a book that takes you through the healing process but in that transition time, Lucy adopts a four year old boy from Russia becoming another journey in itself…..This is a touching story, a life changing one for Lucy, but also helps you look at what you can do in your own ...more
Pam Arneth
Sep 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Very good book

Gave this book five stars because I couldn't put it down. I highly recommend this book. I loved the emails she received from her friend after he died. it showed I think how much he loved her.

Apr 04, 2018 rated it liked it
This book was a roller coaster for me. At times I wanted to shake Lucy until her teeth rattled and tell her to get a grip. Other times I wanted to cry along with her in her grief. If nothing else, anyone who reads this book should learn to tell everyone around them how much they are meant, how much they are loved. Why didn't either one of them express their feelings? Why was time so wasted?

And then Lucy's relationship with Louis - why didn't she want to let him help her? They had a
Taylor Triebenbach
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mrs M Hearn
Aug 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
A thoughtful read

Well written, a slow, thoughtful read that could be sad in places but not depressingly so. I could imagine the anxiety Lucy would feel in Russia and navigating the adoption process, the stress of being alone with a young child you can't even communicate with. Also leaves you with a sadness thinking about what may have been a great love story but never got the chance.
I often cry with a good, sad story and though I liked this book, I didn't actually get moved to tears. A good
Sue Marie
** spoiler alert ** I liked the author's writing style enough to want to read another book. But many plot points didn't seem logical to me: Mat's adjustment to his new life, Lucy's relative easy adaptability to motherhood, Louis and Lucy's relationship, finding childcare for Mat, Yulia and the premise for the adoption, etc.
Mary Anne Fassinger
Good read, enjoyable.

This was a book that let you put yourself in Lucy's shoes, making you wonder what you would do in the same circumstances. It's a story of different kinds of love and life choices.
Joyce A. Mills
Aug 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Great Book!

Its been a while since I read a book that wasn't a mystery that kept me turning pages fast to see what happened next. This book did that!
May 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Accurate description of the Russian adoption issues faced by parents and children.
Tari Meredith
Sep 18, 2017 rated it liked it
Didn't really care for this book. It took me a long time to read it because I just wasn't that interested. Lucy was dull and struck me as weak.
Nov 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Some novels grab you and don’t let you go until you have finished a marathon reading session. Even afterwards, you find yourself thinking about the novel and wondering about various characters and plot points. A Watershed Year is just such a novel.

I will admit that I initially wanted to read A Watershed Year because of its very cool title. I am a dorky water resources engineer, and one item I do in my job is to draw watershed maps to determine where rainfall will drain once it hits the earth. A
Christine Lowe
Jun 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Great Read

I know a good writer when I read one and Susan Schoenberger is a really good writer. The themes in her book are definitely complex and not a word was wasted. I went through many emotions as I was disappointed, encouraged and laughed with the characters.

I like Lucy, the protagonist of the story. She doesn't want to hurt anybody with her actions which is sometimes annoying but her love for her friends and family is strong. Her friend Harlan becomes sick but she refuses to sit back and
Dec 28, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: women-s-fiction
I rated this 2.5 stars.

This book was confused as to what it was trying to be. Was it a story about grief? Was it a romance story? Was it a story about adoption? Was it about religion? I would answer yes to all those questions. This book was trying to be too much and it didn't work. Perhaps if the author had just focused on Lucy's relationship with Harlan and how she tried to move on with life, the book may have been better. Or the author could have focused on Lucy's adoption and left the rest of
May 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
Just very recently, I had the not-too-pleasant task of making funeral arrangements for my parents-in-law who died within thirty-nine days of each other...Now that they're gone, there is some form of comfort on the thought that they still wanted to be together even in the after-life, sort of picking up from the fifty-two years they were married here on earth. Just wow!

Not that it is related, and though death was a major part of this story, I have the same reaction: Just wow! My parents-in-law
Apr 21, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you are a birder or know someone interested in birds, this is a bird you must have for your collection. The author is a renowned birder and photographer and has combined these interests into a stunning book that will be the premiere reference guide for those who love birds.

The most striking feature of the book are the 640 scenes of birds in their native habitats. These scenes were created from over ten thousand photographs the author has taken and show the birds from near and far. There is a
Jan 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adoption
The author has a beautiful, descriptive writing style that I really enjoyed.

I loved the story of Lucy's relationship with the man she loves, who dies in the first chapter of the book. Through her reflections, and as she remembers their times together before he died, we get to travel with Lucy through a relationship challenged by a terminal illness and experience how she deals with her grief.

I enjoyed how the author made some great points through this story line, including not to take for
Aug 26, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I gobbled this up just as I did Schoenberger's latest novel, The Virtues of Oxygen. Her writing challenges my intellect and warms my heart. With A Watershed Year, there were several key relationships the main character, Lucy, was involved in, but the one that was so emotionally wrenching and vivid was the one with her newly adopted four year old son from Russia. From the first moment when she decided to go this route, I was unable to stop reading. Then she goes to Russia to get him and I'm ...more
Feb 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
This was a really lovely book. It took a while to get into the flow of the story but then I couldn't put it down. I just loved Harlan. I was rooting for Lucy to work through her grief and start her life. I liked the sub plot of Lucy's brother and sister-in-law as well.

It's interesting that this is the second in as many books that has had a 9/11 theme running through it. I guess this is the new literary trend replacing "grandma remembers WWII preferably in flashbacks" or "discovered object ties
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Thanks for reading my profile!

I'm a native of Newburgh, NY, and a graduate of Newburgh Free Academy and Dartmouth College (BA, 1984).

My first published novel,"A Watershed Year," won the 2006 gold medal for novel in the William Faulkner William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition. I spent the year after that looking for an agent, and was fortunate enough to secure Jessica Regel, then of the Jean
“ignore all the aggravation that life throws your way, because none of it means anything in the end.” 1 likes
“There were times when Lucy felt almost transparent, insubstantial, as though her body would offer no resistance if the wind chose to lift her into the sky. At such times, she wished she had a small brick house to call her own, something earthbound and solid that could keep her from getting swept away like the seeds of a dandelion.” 0 likes
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