“Set in the beautifully rendered fictional town of Sanctuary on Lake Michigan, The Other Side of Sanctuary is a gripping tale of an ordinary couple facing extraordinary challenges. Through a cast of complex characters caught in a web of romance, jealousy, secrets, and revenge, this story explores the essential questions every person who loves another must ultimately Which sins are forgivable? Which ones are not? And what exactly does it mean to imperfectly love another imperfect human being? The answers will stay with readers long after this story reaches its stunning conclusion.” - Jennifer McGaha, author Flat Broke With Two Goats In The Other Side of Sanctuary, debut author Cheryl Crabb takes readers on an intimate and sometimes dark journey into the emotions that make up a young couple’s challenging marriage. What I loved about this story is the care the author took to get us inside the confusing emotions that occur when couples are pushed to the brink. - Christine DeSmet, mystery author, writing coach, and writing retreat director, University of Wisconsin-Madison Continuing Studies A Wisconsin native, Cheryl Crabb is a fiction writer and accomplished journalist. She holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts and a master’s degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. Her work has appeared in various publications, including the Hartford Courant and in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution where she reported as a staff writer. She and her husband live in metro Detroit with their three daughters and frequently visit northern Michigan where they enjoy jumping the waves and hiking the dunes. The Other Side of Sanctuary is her debut novel.
Cheryl Crabb is a fiction writer and journalist. Her debut novel, The Other Side of Sanctuary (published by Adelaide Books of New York in January 2020) is now available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or at local bookstores and Adelaidebooks.org. She is a recent graduate of the MFA in Writing program at Vermont College of Fine Arts and has a master’s degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. Her work has appeared in various publications, including the Hartford Courant and in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution where she reported as a staff writer. She and her family live in metro Detroit and frequently visit the Sleeping Bear Dunes along Lake Michigan where the book is set in the fictional town of Sanctuary.
The Other Side of Sanctuary, Cheryl Crabb’s debut novel, is an extraordinary story of an ordinary American family. It is set in Sanctuary, Wisconsin between 2010 and 2017.
Laura’s kind and loving Ojibwa mother died when Laura was still a child, and her Caucasian father had been a cruel taskmaster. Her Ojibwa grandfather became Laura’s salvation; he insisted she graduate from high school while her father felt it was a waste of time. When she was eighteen, her grandfather’s last words to her were, “Fly free, little bird…” He left Laura his car, and over her father’s protests she’d broken free, her high school diploma beside her and the world to discover.
Two weeks later Laura followed a fawn through the forest and found herself on a bluff high above Lake Michigan. Losing her balance, she tumbled partway down the hill. When she managed to catch herself, one moccasin had fallen off and lodged farther below, out of reach. The only way to retrieve it was to jump into the lake, grabbing the moccasin on the way down.
Rob was standing erect on his surfboard with his paddle, maneuvering the churning waters of Lake Michigan with ease. In the days that followed he taught her to ride the surf. She taught him Indian lore. The chance meeting led to them falling in love.
It also led to an unplanned pregnancy. They married with Rob’s parents in attendance, but not her uninvited sister or father. Their early passion was tested by life. After feeling settled in their own apartment for five years, money problems forced them to move into his parent’s attic. By then they had 5-year-old Nate, 3-year-old Ella, and baby girl Biyan.
On the 4th of July, a festive day in Sanctuary, Nate tries out his new birthday scooter. He’s hit by a car and nearly dies. His recovery is long and brutal. Laura stays at a distant hospital with her son for two months, until he is able to return home—in a wheel chair. Meanwhile, two of Rob’s old high school friends move back to Sanctuary and everything turns upside down. Ugly secrets from their teen years are forced to the surface, creating raw anger and hard consequences.
Rob’s parents are kind and good people, though set in their ways. They didn’t really know their only son’s wife until after the young family was forced to move in with them. Her enduring dedication to Rob and the children, as well as her strong work ethic, endear her to them.
The moment when the Laura and her mother-in-law find connection and peace was incredibly beautiful. This novel will appeal to readers looking for hope when all seems hopeless. The thread of commitment and family love runs through the novel with much elasticity. This story will stay with readers long after reading the last page.
This review provided for Story Circle Book Reviews by Ann McCauley.
This metaphor-laden book brought me into life in small town Michigan. The complex characters reminded me of my life goal that I can be true to myself by being honest and kind. I also loved the under current of Ojibwa philosophy. Gwen Blakley Kinsler, Author, The Fine Art of Crochet
Well told mystery with complex characters. Draws on Michigan and Wisconsin values and natural resources. I loved Laura, the main character, for her tenacity and her strength to keep forging ahead when her world was under so much stress. Her lifeline to her American Indian past was especially interesting to me.
Thanks to the Stonewater Book Club for hosting me and reading my book this month! It was a lively discussion about what it means to be family. I appreciate your thoughts about Rob and Laura Sanders' troubled marriage and this novel set in the Sleeping Bear Dunes along Lake Michigan, which is based on the premise that everyone needs a sanctuary, but what happens when there is no longer a place for refuge. Would welcome to hear your thoughts!