Isaac Childs has the perfect life—until that life comes crashing down when his wife Ramie vanishes.
Isaac learns that his wife's disappearance is the ninth in a string of similar cases. In the wake of this news, he struggles to cope, to be a good father to his daughter and college-bound son, and to reclaim something of an ordinary life even as he conceals his troubled past.
After the FBI makes an arrest, and his wife is presumed dead, Isaac begins to move on. Yet will his secrets catch up with him? Has he conquered his vices for good? And what of the FBI's theory that the case isn't completely resolved, after all?
Evolved Publishing presents the first book in the "An American Family" series, contemporary suspense thrillers that explore one family's trials and tragedies.
I'm a professional thrifter, the father of four children, and an avid runner. I was born and raised in Georgia, and spent time in Oklahoma, California, Connecticut, and then Oregon, as an adult. I'm a graduate of Oregon State University and now reside in North Georgia, raising my family, near family.
My first book, The Earth Bleeds Red, was released in 2013. My second book, The Lights Will Never Fade, came out in Jan '18. I'm currently signed with Evolved Pub for my new contemporary fiction/suspense series, An American Family. Book one was released in Oct '18, and book two is coming on Nov 5th. Clouds Fall Like Fire, a stand-alone novel, is set to be released in March '19. All books are available as an ebook, paperback, and audiobook.
I'm a bit of a free spirit who enjoys working from home, traveling around, looking for treasures to share, and creating worlds that otherwise would not exist. Thrifting and writing are my two passions, and I'm fortunate to be able to do both.
I don’t know why I like these stories about missing persons and the fear and heartache that goes with coping with this sort of tragedy. Nine time out of ten if I go out of my normal reading genres, I choose something like this book. This one was a bit different I was expecting more of a thriller type of story like Gone Girl (movie- I haven’t read the book) but this was very drama and character heavy. Like I could imagine the writers of This is Us doing if they went the missing persons route.
This story follows Isaac and his family, trying to cope after his wife of nineteen years, Ramie, goes out for a run and never comes home. Their story is told with occasional interludes with the FBI as they work to solve the case and try and find Ramie.
The story covers a large amount of time giving us a good picture of their lives during Ramie’s absence. It also makes it very hard to talk about without spoilers because so much of this is tied up in the characters. Isaac and his family just seem to get back on their feet again after one thing, and then are knocked down again. It does keep you reading and interested in knowing what’s going to happen, and it is consistently paced throughout. However, at times it did feel that it moved too quickly from one event to the next, just barely giving us time for it to sink in and I kept thinking Ok, this is what it’s been working up to and we are going to explore this, only for it to move on again.
The characters are complex, and we see them with all of their faults bared. I appreciated that, and that there was a nice balance of diverse characters. None of them were the easiest people to like though and the narrative that this is told in gives it a dissociative voice to it all, which didn’t help to endear me to any of them or their problems.
Which is too bad because watching this family struggle while trying to find their footing again could have hit me with a lot more impact than it did with this combination of pov and the quick-paced style.
Overall this was a very digestible read, and waiting to see if Isaac’s past transgressions catch up with him and when, had me breezing through fairly quickly. It also ends on somewhat of a turning point, I hesitate to call it a cliffie because it still feels like this portion of their lives is complete but there are definitely several big points left unexplored.
This was a hard one to rate because there were things I really liked, things I didn’t, and things I personally wanted explored more. Which just puts this story into that battle-ground between technically decent and personal enjoyment, and those are always the hardest to rate. I ended up settling in the middle with a 3.5.
If you like family drama stories with characters that are flawed and struggling to be good people then it’ll probably hit all the spots for you.
A special thanks to the author Jackson Paul Baer for generously supplying a copy in exchange for a review.
I did not know what to expect from this novel or the author. I had never read his previous work, but I was taken by the description of the book and figured I would give it a go.
I liked the characters. They are all so flawed and yet still have qualities about each of them the reader could relate to. The storyline was interesting, although it seems to jump around a lot as versus letting the situations really play out both to strengthen the novel and the characters.
I have one issue with “An American Family,” that continually stood out: the dialogue. It was stilted and very elementary. I felt that writing the novel and telling the story with little pieces of dialogue here and there to back up feelings or situations would have played better in this work. The author had great characters and storylines, but taking a different POV and truly sinking his teeth into the trauma and the issues around it, moving forward and truly bring the novel to life is not only possible by this author, but truly needed for this work.
Rating: 3.4 ⭐️⭐️⭐️
** I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this novel. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
All my reviews can be found at: http://jessicasreadingroom.com ~~~~ This review will post on my site on 12/19 ~~~~ 3.5 stars rounded up to 4 for Goodreads ~~~~ An American Family is a character driven novel with a family of imperfect people. Each character has issues, the main focus is Isaac. It was hard to like and feel for him. This family went through something terrible that no one should experience but Isaac’s faults just kept coming.
The novel is far from perfect: the writing comes off as juvenile and could have been written better. For example, in the first chapter there were constant mentions of the crime shows that Isaac and Ramie watch and enjoy. I found myself wondering what I got myself into… and then something unexpected happened: I became invested in the story! I am from Georgia as is Baer, so I think part of what drew me in to the novel was hearing about locations I know: Whitlock in Marietta, The Chicken and the Egg (I have not eaten there yet, but know about it). I kept wondering if ‘The Big Chicken’ was going to make an ‘appearance’ in the novel. (It doesn’t but that would have been awesome!).
I wanted to know how each family member was going to cope and move on from their loss. Many of the twists were predictable, except for that final twist. There is a second book called Life After Death which you will want to start once you finish An American Family. I am listening to it now and should have it done quickly with the review posted soon.
Special thanks to the author for sending me an audio copy to listen to and review via Love Books Group Tours.
Crime and suspense thrillers are not my usual “go-to” genre. The author asked me to review his book, and I was intrigued by the title and the cover, so why not try something a bit darker than my usual reads?
The suspense begins on the first page of this book. Isaac Childs is waiting for his wife to come home. Many of us have endured this type of situation- peeking out the window, checking the clock, texting, as one’s mind churns from “Where is she…why couldn’t she let me know…should I call the police…?”
We also meet Isaac’s two children and we find out more about this family’s life, which seems to be “picture-perfect.” However, chapter by chapter, this illusion is eroded as we see that father, son, daughter and even the missing mother all have secrets and problems. In addition to the family situation, we get to see the FBI in action.
This story has good bones with an intriguing plot and damaged but compelling characters. However, this is not fine literature. This book presents “just the facts”. If you like gritty realism, and some surprising twists, then you will find this be a quick and interesting read.
Thanks to the author for a review copy. This is my honest review.
His wife is missing and he struggles to cope with keeping his children going and his life. He is hiding secrets. His wife is decorated dead. Now what will he do? See what his secret is and if his wife is really dead
I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.
How I would describe this story is a complex nature of the human experience. The beauty of Jackson Baer's writing, and by that I mean his character development, his world building and everything in between, is that he is unafraid to write what it means to be in reality. There is an incredible humanness to the characters, in that they are definitely not perfect and they have flaws like actual real people do. One of my pet peeves in fiction, and especially young adult fiction though current YA is moving away from this trend thank god, is writing characters who are literally two-dimensional robots. Those characters where you can't emotionally connect with, who are written as though they are so absolutely perfect and their 'problems' are ridiculously non-issues? Well, An American Family is nothing like that, which just showcases the talent that Jackson Baer has in being able to craft such a real narrative with real-life characters.
In terms of the actual storyline, An American Family is very much driven by its characters. It explores the aftermath of Ramie's (Isaac's wife) disappearance on Isaac, his daughter and his son whereby, their layers are peeled one by one and you are confronted with raw characters who know of their shortcomings. Not only was the family dynamics compelling, but the actual FBI case was fantastically written. To be quite honest, that was the main aspect of the novel that intrigued me. The thriller and suspenseful nature of the case overall was written with such panache that I could not stop reading. I was on the edge of my seat.
Although, I must also admit that the only reason why I have rated this novel a 4 out of 5 stars is the result of two reasons. For one, I was reading An American Family whilst I was attempting to finish my second last assignment of the semester, so I was stressed and anxious which then resulted in me slightly losing interest in the novel about halfway through. This was rectified though - I just needed to breathe, have a cup of tea and read in the sunlight, it was wonderful. The second thing I noticed, however, was that at times the dialogue between the characters seemed forced and did not quite flow like a conversation. It was not an overwhelming issue though, and the actual writing of the narrative was incredibly articulate and the emotionality of the story was powerful.
An American Family is the first novel in Jackson Baer's new two-part series of the same name, and is out now! I would recommend this as a read, especially if suspenseful thrillers with raw and incredibly real characters, this would be the book for you.
I was given this book in tun for an honest review.
Isaac Childs has it all, the perfect life, the perfect wife, or does he? When his wife disappears, Isaac finds his life turned upside down. When opportunity arises, he chooses to move on; life is unpredictable, will Isaac’s past catch up with him, and destroy everything?
This is the first book of Jackson Baer’s I have read; I was not disappointed with this story or Jackson’s writing. He has an excellent writing style that draws you in and has you hooked from early on. Isaac and his family intrigued me, it’s clear there is a lot to them as individuals and as a family.
This isn’t your typical crime story, this is about a man and his family who are dealt a seriously heart-breaking shock, one that changes their lives for ever and changes who they are. In some ways we see Isaac grow and in others we see the constant turmoil he lives with regarding his past choices and mistakes. Isaac’s children are also intriguing and complex characters, they both have their own struggles and secrets, which has intensified since the disappearance of their mother.
I loved that this story also gave us the view from the FBI as they investigated the disappearance of Isaac’s wife, they too, were intriguing and interesting characters.
Although to a degree I felt I knew where this story was going towards the end of this first book, in some ways it still came as a surprise, and I’m looking forward to continuing their story with book #2.
Crime, Mystery, Suspense, Romance, Saga, this story has it all! Jackson Baer has written an excellent and compelling story.
The author did a great job establishing the characters and the character relationships. Not only do they seem like real people, but they struggle with the same 'demons' that a great many people struggle with such as infidelity, temptation, addiction, abuse, and more. At the same time, these characters also experience some of the genuinely best parts of life such as following their dreams, love, new beginnings, success, etc. One of the best aspects of this book is the author's ability to weave in this element of honesty of the reality real people encounter in their daily lives.
This isn't your typical abduction story. This isn't the typical 'person is abducted and then killed' or 'person is abducted but is saved and everyone lives happily ever after', it is so much more. However, there are periods throughout the book where I would start to forget that this was supposed to be a 'contemporary suspense thriller'. These periods are still intriguing, but the details do start to seem irrelevant to the overall story if you don't know that there is a 2nd book. Since there is a 2nd book, there is some stage setting going on that will likely make more sense later on and character interaction that will likely come to fruition. One very important question we are left to consider: what would you do if you were Isaac?
I think the narrator really did a great job with this performance, on a general level. He was consistent, clear, and he differentiated the character voices very well. I think he could have exaggerated some emotions throughout the performance to add an extra layer of intensity to the story. As a narrator, he did great; however, I'm not wholly convinced that his actual voice was the best voice choice for this particular story. Regardless, he absolutely must narrate the next book. There is nothing worse than a narrator change in the midst of a series.
Excellent writing and great narration. Anxiously awaiting book 2!
I received a review copy at my request and have voluntarily left this unbiased review.
An American Family is an addictively harrowing novel, beautifully written, entailing mystery, crime, suspense, vivid description, heartbreak, love, as well as many emotional highs and lows. It starts off quickly with an intense tragedy, and takes the reader through a thrilling tale.
The author provides dynamic character description, adding quirks (such as the dog has one eye, the attractive frugality of the main character, Isaac Childs, hobbies...) and flaws (such as addiction, lying, deep-seeded feelings for the wrong reasons, unhealthy habits...) to every last one of them. This helps the reader feel more connected with the characters. It also reminds one that good people make mistakes, and it’s important to move forward and learn from those mishaps, daily.
The plot is riddled with easy, functional-transitioning between storylines, enticing suspense, heartbreaking, tragic events, the ability to rise above rock-bottom, and the realistic reactions/behaviors from characters, as opposed to the typical god-like complex main characters tend to have, especially in the fiction genre. There are no loose-ends, and its ending provides a promising foundation for the second book in the series, Life After Death.
I loved reading this book, to say the least. I’m enamored by the writing, the creativity, the depth of the characters, how the story all comes together in the end, and the roller coaster of emotions evoked from each page.
I’ve read two other books by Mr. Baer; The Earth Bleeds Red and The Lights Will Never Fade. Both are full of the same magical mystery, but stand strong with their own alluring plots. These plots entail crime, chilling discoveries, amazing writing, love, hate, and closure. I highly recommend reading everything this author has written, and I can’t wait to get started on Life After Death.
Isaac, father of two-Carter and Olivia-has his whole life turned upside down when his wife Ramie disappears one night. The FBI conclude that the case is pretty clear: she was taken by a serial killer and they'll probably never find her body. The rest of the family find it hard to adjust, as Isaac turns to drinking and his teenage children turn to other vices, all of them trying to keep the little of family they have left, together.
This is my third Baer book, and yet again, Baer writes with elegance and momentum. This book his quite fast paced to begin with, and then dials it down - way down. I could argue that the book is slow, that there isn't much plot there in the middle. But that's where Baer's writing shines, in the small details, the delicate nuances. The family that is left between the three people, the livest they try to cling to. It's captivating.
The ending both surprised me and was exactly as I thought - I won't spoil it but I'll say there is a sequel to this book. I kind of wish that more of the mystery and the dark and gritty of it all (with the disappearance and serial killer) will be dealt with in the next book, because I didn't feel like it was focused enough upon in this one. But once again, that's not what it's about. It's not about those who were taken away, it's about those remained.
Not my favorite Baer book, but I'm still a fan. He writes with passion, and it shows.
Thank you to the author for providing me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review.
I went into this book expecting a missing person mystery type of book, which it is, what I wasn’t expecting was it to be so character driven. The story follows Issac Childs and his two children, Carter and Olivia, as they deal with the disappearance and presumed murder of their mother Ramie.
The story itself is fairly fast moving and as I mentioned it is a very character driven novel, focusing more on the characters reactions, feelings, and struggles than a full out focus on the murder/mystery story which is going on. To be honest this made it a more enjoyable read for me as I do prefer more character focus. Each character has their own ‘secrets’ or struggles they need to work through, as they all struggle with their grief.
This is definitely a book that will keep you wanting to read more as there is more than one twist or turn involved to keep you engaged. Some parts were actually way more creepy and sinister than I was anticipating which was great as well. The ending left on a great cliffhanger and really made me excited to read the next book. (In fact, that’s exactly what I did as soon as I finished haha). I think I would have preferred some of the issues that each character was facing to have been a bit more focused on and with a clearer resolution as the book did move quite fast at times. However, it was a great and compelling read.
An American Family could be any happy family in the U.S. Sometimes bad things happen to good people. One bad event can change a family's whole existence and this happens to Ramie when she goes out one evening for her run. For the next two years, we follow Isaac as he struggles to overcome his grief and get on with his life. He creates a new life with his family only to see it explode when a shocking development concerning Ramie's disappearance emerges. I recommend this book wholeheartedly.
An American Family: A Gripping Contemporary Suspense Thriller by Jackson Baer is a wonderful story to read. This story has everything from suspenseful, crime, heartbreak, laughter to romance threw the whole story. I loved reading this story and I highly recommend this story for all who love suspens thiller stories.
I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.
OMG! This is a must read. It is so engrossing I barely was able to put it down. You won't believe the twists and ending. Tragic yet so well done it is a one of a kind read. His wife's disappearance leaves him devastated but the family slowly manages to move on only to experience surprising events that keep the reader intrigued from page one.
Well thought out and written mystery that wouldn't be a mystery without the twists and turns that kept coming! I also liked that the author considered what happens when someone is presumed dead.. and how life can go on. The characters are well formed and the family dynamics realistic. You can relate.
There is also the proverbial wrench thrown in the mix and, also, urrrrrr. a cliffhanger... so here I go to #2.
I really enjoyed this book. It is a little different than what I was expecting. Despite that it is a book I will reread again. This book is heavily character oriented and I'm happy about that, because it made the whole situation more believable. I would definitely recommend this book to those who like family drama and thriller type books. I'm really excited to read the next book to find out what happens!
this was very interesting.. some spots was creepy.. and the narrator did an amazing job with that haha. the story was very seat of your pants gripping type of story.. very well written. the narrator captured the feelings of the story and the characters very well . i liked this a lot
I really enjoyed this book! This book kept me wanting to read more. I enjoyed this book just as much as the other book I read from this author. I love surprises and twists and this book had it all for me. The plot was amazing and I loved the characters. What happens when your world turns upside down?*This book was given to me for free at my request and I provided this voluntary review.*
Wow! This story has it all. The characters are so real it's hard to read about their tragedies. And boy do they have them. And yet they are able to continue with life. I'd be insane! You really need to read this amazing tale!
I loved the story and how the characters had real life flaws. They was relatable to modern day issues in families. The ending left me wanting to know how the delimma is going to be resoved. I highly recommend this gripping tale.
This was my first Jackson Baer's book. This is a good and gripping contemporary suspense and dramatic thriller. The story is well written. The characters and their relationships are well described. The story is filled with twists and turns. The FBI investigation is captivating. The ending is surprising and I would like to know what happens next. The narration is good. The narrator has a great male voice, but his female voice isn't my favorite. I received this free review copy audiobook at my request and I have voluntarily left this review.
There are very few books that I do not finish. This is one of them. I had to give it up at 58%. Terrible amateurish writing. Choppy unnatural dialogue. Did you know that Isaac and Ramie watched crime shows? Oh you did? Probably because it was repeated 500 times. All romantic relationships were surrounded by cheesy, over the top language. It made me physically cringe. Gripping? Suspenseful? I guess if you think phrases such as, "Any chance they had they made sure to hold hands and feel their all-consuming love for each other." , is edge of your seat thrilling. Just bad.
What happens when tragedy strikes a seemingly perfect all-American family? When Ramie Childs goes missing, her family finds out rather quickly that secrets and lies are harder to hide, and hurt is unleashed in very different ways.
Baer did a wonderful job developing the main characters. I had difficulties liking Isaac at times, but couldn’t help rooting for him to move on in a healthy, positive way.
As Ramie’s family tries to move on from her disappearance, the FBI does its best to crack the case of the missing women. Just when the FBI thinks that the case is coming to an end, new information arises, reopening wounds that Ramie’s family had just healed and extending the mystery, suspense, and turmoil of the story.
The story has a lot going on, as it follows several characters throughout. It has emotion, suspense, mystery, and drama. It finishes, not on a cliffhanger, but leaving many loose ends to be tied up in the second book of the series.
The Childs family appears to be a typical family on the surface, but when tragedy strikes, family secrets start to emerge. In a story reminiscent of a Patricia Cornwell thriller, the multiple plot twists will keep the reader turning pages until the shocker at the end. There is some profanity, mainly spoken by the FBI agents as they make one gruesome discovery after another. There is also a sequel, for those who want to read beyond the cliffhanger at the end. Overall, this was an engaging, interesting read, even though I cringed at many of the choices made by the characters. They were definitely multidimensional people, just as those we meet in real life.
I absolutely loved this one. It has all the feels. Issac seemed to have it all and then tragedy strikes rocking their world. This is a story about life changing events and learning how to cope with the outcome. I really loved this book and look forward to the next one.
Well let me start off by qualifying this glowing review with this: this whole story takes place in the city where I grew up, Woodstock, GA. So reading about all the parks and places in and around Woodstock was like literally just walking down memory lane. I spend many a night at Hobgood park right where our characters are multiple times. So obviously I was going to love a book that took place in a town so dear to me. Now to the story, I have read this author's other 2 novels and while I liked them, this one was his best yet. The story was captivating and thrilling. While it was not a long book at all, he does a wonderful job at painting a picture of all the characters. I think that was one of the most impressing parts to me, honestly, is that in a very short amount of time, there is amazing character development. I found myself getting involved in the characters very quickly. Then the mystery part of the story was very well laid out. There were some good twists and original thoughts when it came to the mystery of the disappearance of Ramie. I thought the author did a really good job of keeping your on your toes with how he unfolded the case. He wove the case in beautifully with the family story. At the end of each chapter I couldn't put it down. I kept having to read the next chapter then the next, until I was completely finished. Many times you read a suspense/thriller/fiction, crime story and the build up is amazing but the ending was poor. Well that was definitely not the case here. The book finished very nicely by not leaving any major loose ends or major cliffhangers. While at the same time there is a lot of room for expansion of the story and the characters involved. I give this book a definite 5/5 and I cannot wait to read the next one.