The Away Place by author Ruth Tiger is the poignant story of a special bond between John, a man with Down Syndrome, and an idealist doctoral student, Sarah Richardson. In the turbulent 1970’s, a death-bed confession by Sarah’s mother spurs Sarah to become an activist for protecting the rights of intellectually challenged adults. Sarah founds a group home for previously institutionalized severely disabled adults who move into her start-up facility with little preparation for living in the outside world. Sarah finds herself drawn to John, an especially sensitive and gentle man who grew up in the institution never knowing his family. When tragedy strikes the group home, Sarah is spurred to discover secrets about her mother’s past. What happened to her mother that will bring Sarah’s past, present, and future to full circle? Tiger writes with amazing clarity, shifting throughout her narration between John’s and Sarah’s perspectives. Through these vastly differing lenses, the reader experiences the world of those with disabilities in unexpected and intriguing ways. Tiger’s brilliant novel is rich with emotion, complex characters, and a dramatic ending that will stay with you long after you’ve finished the book.
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