The Twelfth Child by Bette Lee Crosby

By Ekta R. Garg

June 13, 2012

Rated: Bookmark it!

Despite her father’s insistence that only a man can accomplish anything of merit in this man’s world, a young woman decides she will live her life according to her own design.  After experiencing a lifetime of adventure from the early years of the twentieth century to the early years of the twenty-first century, Abigail Anne meets a wonderful young woman named Destiny who comes just as Abigail Anne is in need of a companion to help her in her elderly years.  Bette Lee Crosby’s third novel, The Twelfth Child will have readers turning pages and forsaking everything else in order to get to the end of the book.

Born in the years before the First World War to a farmer father and his wife, Abigail Anne Lannigan learns early that her father, William, only intends for her twin brother, Will, to pursue anything of consequence in life.  Despite her talents in farm chores, William always scolds Abigail and sends her away.  By the time the twins reach their pre-teen years, both of them know and don’t hesitate to express the fact that William severely dislikes Abigail.  Although their mother, Livonia, does all she can to denounce the twins’ declarations, she knows the truth as well: William wanted two boys instead of a son and a daughter.

With Livonia’s moral support Abigail manages to tolerate her father’s behavior, but once Livonia dies life becomes almost unbearable for Abigail.  When William begins pushing her to get married by the age of 16, Abigail takes matters into her own hands and runs away.  She knows she’s risking a lifetime of alienation from William, but she considers it a small risk for the chance to pursue her own path.  That path directs her around many blind corners and even into a dead end once or twice, but Abigail perseveres with the doggedness of a woman driven by one thing: determination.

Towards the end of her life Abigail meets Destiny Fairchild, a young woman who seems to Abigail heaven-sent.  Just as Abigail starts to become too infirm to handle the chores of daily life, Destiny steps in and becomes the daughter Abigail never had.  But when Destiny needs Abigail in the biggest challenge of her own life, Abigail finds herself unable to help Destiny.

In this book readers will feel like author Crosby has most certainly hit her stride.  Despite covering a long span of time, the book contains a settled, measured quality, and Crosby tells her story with the ease of a pro.  Readers may find it hard to believe Crosby is only three novels old, but the depth of character, voice, and story in The Twelfth Child all come from the heart of a born storyteller.  The book is almost flawless.

Two minor points form the source of that “almost”: 1) The absence of the media circus in the court trial towards the end.  With the particular facts of the case brought to court, present-day newspapers, websites, and television newscasts would have certainly shown up on the steps of the courthouse in droves to cover the story.  Crosby doesn’t provide much insight into the presence of any media glare, instead cocooning Abigail and Destiny’s story.  2) The perceived impropriety of a relationship between a lawyer and his client, and, again, this is where the media would have thoroughly enjoyed their jobs.  Sweet love story aside, some members of the media surely would have questioned the objectivity of a lawyer who gets involved with a client he represents.

Despite these two small issues, however, readers absolutely will love The Twelfth Child.  The only complaint they might have comes in the very last line of the book and its implied cliffhanger.  Will Crosby write a sequel or a companion novel?  Regardless of the answer, this reviewer gives The Twelfth Child her highest recommendation and encourages readers to put it on their “must read” summer book lists.

***

What the ratings mean:

Bookmark it!–Read this book and then buy it and add it to to your own collection.  It’s definitely worth it!

Borrow it–Check this one out from the library; it’s a worthy read, but think twice before spending your hard-earned money on it.

Bypass it–Free time is precious.  Don’t spend it on this book!

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