A Simple Thing
by Kathleen McCleary

How far would you go to protect your children? Would you do it at the expense of your marriage? How far would you go to protect yourself?

For Susannah Delaney, the answers lie thousands of miles away, off the northwest corner of Washington state. When Susannah discovers her young son is being bullied and her adolescent daughter is spinning out of control, she moves them to remote Sounder Island in the San Juans to live off the grid for a year. Susannah hopes to save her children from the risks they’ve encountered at home, and to come to terms with her own haunted past. But the move threatens her marriage to the man she’s loved since childhood, and her very sense of self.

For Betty Pavalak, who first moved to Sounder to save her own troubled marriage, the island has been a haven for more than fifty years. But Betty also knows the guilt of living with choices she made long ago and actions that cannot be undone.The unlikely friendship between Susannah and Betty ignites a journey of self-discovery for both women that brings them both home to what they love most. A SIMPLE THING moves beyond friendship, children, and marriages to look deeply into what it means to love and forgive—yourself.


“Beautifully written, great plot, and just one of those feel-happy-after-reading-I-wish-it-lasted-longer good books…A novel profound in its connections to marriage, children, love, parenting, and forgiveness, McCleary’s book never becomes pedantic or boring. This is a lovely novel, full of depth in its characters and the problems we all face as parents, and how we deal with teenage angst…A very good read.”—Ava, The Review Broads

“There is much to love about A Simple Thing: the way it transports you to another world; its delicate explorations of guilt and forgiveness; its lovely prose. But what I treasure most are its characters, especially Susannah, a wife, mother, and friend I recognized, with all of her bravery and fear, her deep confusion and clear, fierce love.”
—Marisa de los Santos, author of Love Walked In, Belong to Me and Falling Together