New York Times bestselling author Jacquelyn Mitchard captured the heart of a nation with The Deep End of the Ocean, her celebrated debut novel about mother Beth Cappadora, a child kidnapped, a family in crisis. Now, in No Time to Wave Goodbye, the unforgettable Cappadoras are in peril once again, forced to confront an unimaginable evil.
It has been twenty-two years since Beth Cappadora’s three-year-old son Ben was abducted. By some miracle, he returned nine years later, and the family began to pick up the pieces of their lives. But their peace has always been fragile: Ben returned from the deep end as another child and has never felt entirely at ease with the family he was born into. Now the Cappadora children are grown: Ben is married with a baby girl, Kerry is studying to be an opera singer, and Vincent has emerged from his troubled adolescence as a fledgling filmmaker.
The subject of Vincent’s new documentary, “No Time to Wave Goodbye,” shakes Vincent’s unsuspecting family to the core; it focuses on five families caught in the tortuous web of never knowing the fate of their abducted children. Though Beth tries to stave off the torrent of buried emotions, she is left wondering if she and her family are fated to relive the past forever.
The film earns tremendous acclaim, but just as the Cappadoras are about to celebrate the culmination of Vincent’s artistic success, what Beth fears the most occurs, and the Cappadoras are cast back into the past, revisiting the worst moment of their lives–with only hours to find the truth that can save a life. High in a rugged California mountain range, their rescue becomes a desperate struggle for survival.
No Time to Wave Goodbye is Jacquelyn Mitchard at her best, a spellbinding novel about family loyalty, and love pushed to the limits of endurance.
From the Hardcover edition.
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Jacquelyn Mitchard is the New York Times bestselling author of the first Oprah’s Book Club selection, The Deep End of the Ocean, and more than a dozen other books for both adults and children. A former syndicated columnist for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, she is a contributing editor for Parade, and her work has appeared in More, Reader’s Digest, Good Housekeeping, and Real Simple, among other publications. Mitchard lives in Wisconsin with her husband and seven children.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Before dawn on the day she would finally see his first real film, Beth Cappadora slipped into the guest room and lay down on the edge of the bed where her son, Vincent, slept.
Had she touched his hair or his shoulder, he would not have stirred. When he slept at all, Vincent slept like a man who'd fallen from a relaxed standing position after being hit on the back of the head by a frying pan. Still, she didn't take the risk. Her relationship with Vincent didn't admit of nighttime confidences, funny cards, all the trappings of the sentimental, platonic courtship between a mother and her grown boy. Instead, Beth blessed the air around his head, where coiled wisps of dark hair still sprang up as they had when he was a child.
Show them, Vincent, she said softly. Knock 'em dead.
Beth asked only a minor redemption-something that would stuff back the acid remarks that everyone had made about where Vincent's career of minor crime and major slough-offs would end, because it had so far outlasted the most generous boundaries of juvenile delinquency. She wished one thing itself, simple and linear: Let Vincent's movie succeed.
That night, as she watched the film, and recognized its might and its worth, Beth had to appreciate-by then, against her will-that her wish was coming true. What she didn't realize was something that she'd learned long ago.
Only long months from that morning did Beth, a superstitious woman all her life, realize she had forgotten that if a wish slipped like an arrow through a momentary slice in the firmament, it was free to come true any way it would. Only fools thought its trajectory could ever be controlled.
Sixteen hours after Beth tiptoed from Vincent's bedside, a spotlight beam shined out over the seat where she sat fidgeting and craning her neck to peek at everyone else taking their seats in the Harrington Community Center Auditorium.
Suddenly, there was Vincent, onstage. He looked up from nervously adjusting the pink tie he wore against his white shirt and twilight gray suit and said, "I have to apologize. We have a little technical glitch we need to fix and then we'll be ready. Thanks for your patience. In just a moment, the first voice you will hear is my sister, the opera singer Kerry Rose Cappadora, who also narrates this film. I'll be right back. I mean, the film will. Thanks again."
Beth leaned forward as if from the prow of a ship. Her husband, Pat, reached out to ease her back. "Don't jump," he teased. "You can't do this for him. It's high time, Bethie. You have to agree. Vincent's lived la vita facile too long."
"I know," Beth agreed. Though she didn't speak Italian, she wanted to poke Pat in the ribs and not gently. Vincent earned his way, after a fashion. Vincent owned a home, after a fashion-two rooms in Venice Beach, California, that had once been a garage. Vincent had made a gourmet chocolate commercial nominated for an ADDY Award. He hadn't asked them for a dime since...well, since the last time he dropped out of college. But she said only, "You're right, of course."
"Why aren't you arguing with me?" Pat asked. "What's the matter with you?" Beth shrugged, battling the urge to drag her fingers through her careful blowout: If you have to mess with your hair, Beth's friend Candy said, shake, don't rake. Pat cracked his knuckles. "Damn it," Pat said then. "Who am I trying to kid? I haven't wanted a cigarette this bad since the grease fire at the restaurant. I want to jump up on the stage and yell at everybody, This is my son's work! You better appreciate this! But we've got to give this over to him."
"Absolutely," Beth said, her heartbeat now a busy little mallet that must be visible through her pale silk chemise.
"You sound like a robot. Where's my wife? You could object a little," Pat said.
"Too nervous," Beth replied.
It was more than that, of course. Nothing that she could confide, even in Pat. For Beth was in part responsible for her son's brushes with the law and his seeming inability to finish...anything. (In part? Was she flattering herself? Once upon a time, Vincent had done everything he could, including selling a few bushels of thankfully low-order drugs, to get his mother's thousand-yard stare to focus on him.) If this film were to be worthy at all-Beth hugged herself, smiling-then this private screening for a hundred people in the rented theater of a community center would also be the long-overdue premiere of her son's life as a man in full.
More than this, in just a moment, Beth would learn the answers to the questions she'd asked herself for months.
What was the documentary about?
Why had Vincent enlisted his sister and his brother to help him make it? Last year, during the filming, had been the busiest time of their lives: Ben had a wife, a full share in the family business, and a baby on the way. Kerry still lived at her parents' house, but her college major was so demanding that some nights she came home from school or the voice studio with dark smudges under her eyes and fell asleep before she could eat the food she'd microwaved.
Was it because the subject was too intimate or incendiary or simply too off the wall to entrust to a stranger, even a fellow professional? Why had Vincent used film instead of video, which probably quadrupled the cost?
Was the obsessive privacy all pride? Did he have to do this all on his own?
With his first documentary, Alpha Female, a snapshot of the life of a young farmer's wife and mother of four putting herself through college as a part-time dominatrix, Vincent had turned to Beth, a photographer for nearly thirty years, on everything from how to light someone so blond that her features were nearly achromatic to how to coax an interview out of the woman's stern, disapproving parents. Beth recalled the look on her mother-in-law's face when that film had first screened, in the auditorium of the high school from which Vincent had been expelled. Freckle-faced Katie Hubner saddle-soaped her leather garter belt and said, "They don't care anything about sex, poor things! They just want me to treat them like their mean old mamas did!"
Of this film, Beth knew nothing but its title, No Time to Wave Goodbye. In her good moments, it seemed almost a private message from her older son. Her own first photo book-a series of black-and-white shots of her own children walking away from her, dragging fishing poles, hurrying toward the blooming pagoda of a fireworks display, each underlined with a tender quotation-was called Wave Goodbye.
What other connection could there possibly be?
Beth began to twist her wedding ring round and round. Did no one else notice the minutes that had collapsed since Vincent's introduction? Two, three...seven?
No one close to the family would mind. There they all were, chatting, her family, her in-laws, Ben and his wife, Eliza. People were admiring Ben and Eliza's baby, two-month-old Stella, Beth's first grandchild, on her very first outing. Along with Eliza's mother-Beth's beloved friend Candy-the crowd included dozens of business associates and old and new neighborhood friends. They were the cheering section.
But what about the others?
What of the one reviewer invited to this private event? Where was he? The fourth-row seat on the aisle reserved for him was still empty.
And all the guests Beth didn't recognize?
Would they hate the film if they had to wait much longer?
Beth glanced around her. In the same row, across the aisle, sat a perfect Yankee couple, ramrod-straight, their spines an inch from the seat backs-mother, father, impeccably coutured blond daughter. Several rows back, directly behind Beth, a soft, pretty young black woman held hands with her son, a slender young teenager. To the right and near the back door, there was a round-shouldered guy, not heavy but big, who might have been a day laborer with his snap-closure shirt rolled up to the elbows. No one sat beside him; in presence rather than size, he seemed to fill a row of his own. A young Latino couple-a sharply dressed young man and his hugely pregnant wife-patiently tolerated the two silently rambunctious preschoolers crawling all over them. An older man, who could have been an advertisement for mountain-climbing and Earth Shoes, sat just beyond the young couple. Who were these people? Who were they to Vincent?
The screen went dark.
Then from the darkness, a canvas appeared and, to the sound of Kerry's pure, sweet soprano singing "Liverpool Lullaby," a beautiful sequence of transparent photos of children was tacked to the cinematic canvas by an invisible hand. As soon as each eager face appeared, a name, height, and date of birth printed below it, like a Wanted poster, a visual force like a strong wind tore the picture off the screen. Beside the photos, words configured to look like a child's block printing unfurled. They read: A Pieces by Reese Production...written and produced by Vincent Cappadora and Rob Brent...in conjunction with John Marco Ruffalo Projects...edited by Emily Sydney...
Then came the last photo.
The last photo was Ben's preschool photo.
Beth gripped the arms of her seat. What?
Twenty-two years ago, that very photo had occupied the whole cover of People magazine. For almost a decade, it claimed real estate in the center of the corkboard in the office of Detective Supervisor Candy Bliss, as she had searched tirelessly for Beth's kidnapped son, to no avail. Posters made from this photo melted to tatters under the pummeling of rain and snow and sun and more rain and snow on thousands of light poles all over the Midwest and beyond. And they had produced nothing but phone calls from every...
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