Monday, March 18, 2013

Finding Out


Getting dumped on the sidewalk by her live-in boyfriend of seven years and realizing that he nearly emptied their savings account is the first of Sheila Davenport's problems. At thirty-six, Sheila had thought her life was on track. But life no longer makes sense. Now she's saddled with a mortgage that's about to skyrocket, a psychotic boss, and a new employee who is unqualified and hell-bent on messing with the company's rules.

Her friends advise her to date immediately, preferably someone rich and successful, or risk being old and alone. But Sheila needs to figure out what went wrong and how she got to this place. Since Prince Charming has ruined Sheila's life, who can save her now?

Help comes unexpectedly from her elderly neighbor, Ruth Grey, who has had her own share of ups and downs. As their friendship grows, Ruth reveals her deeply moving story of survival in WWII Germany. Ruth's mesmerizing past is a powerful tale of love and revenge that provides the perspective Sheila desperately needs to put the pieces of her own life back together.

Will Sheila succeed at work or walk away? Can she save her home? And why do her friends think they have it any better?

A story of love found and lost, true friendship, and how the human spirit endures.


“He’s with someone else.” Sheila couldn’t control the tears any longer. “His twenty-six year-old assistant!”

Sheila let it all out. She had stayed strong at work all week, been a good friend to Morgan, and exhausted herself in the process. Coming home alone every night with no one to talk to was hard. She was used to sharing her day with Joe and getting his advice. She didn’t know how to be single and she didn’t like it.

Ruth listened as Sheila poured her heart out. The poor girl was so upset. Ruth had never been a fan of Joe’s. He was polite enough but it was apparent to her anyway, that he would never commit. He didn’t have to. Sheila gave him everything he wanted and never asked for anything in return.

“Well, of course you’re upset, Sheila. He wasn’t forthright with his intentions and was really quite low to end things the way he did. But you have to keep living. Move on,” Ruth said.

“How? I haven’t been single since I was twenty-nine. I don’t even know how to date anymore.”

“Dating will come. Right now, you need to do something to make yourself happy. Create the best life possible,” Ruth said.

“How? Half of my life is gone.” Sheila wiped her eyes. “Have you ever felt like everything was just upside down?” Sheila looked past Ruth to the photos on the credenza. “You were married. You grew up with a close family. Can you imagine coming home and no one is there? It’s like someone vanished.”

Ruth smiled knowingly. “My life had ups and downs, I assure you.”

Ruth turned to look at the credenza full of items from her life. How she missed her family. Bill, her husband of forty years, most of all. That emptiness was almost all she had now. But she shook her head to push the memories away. This was about Sheila. Ruth knew she was suffering, yet in so many ways, she was better off. But who could tell Sheila that right now?

After a few moments of silence, Sheila looked at Ruth then followed her gaze.

“You have so many nice things.” Sheila’s eyes fell on a blue vase on the coffee table. “That is gorgeous.”

“Thank you. My grandmother gave it to my mother as a wedding gift. It’s my favorite thing in the world. I’ve been putting things in boxes, but I can’t bear to shut that away. I think beautiful things should be seen and touched. Though sometimes thinking of the past too much is like looking into the sun. It can hurt.” Ruth saw the confusion in Sheila’s face. “There were many dark times in my life. Some things I don’t care to remember, especially during the war.”

“Did your brothers fight in Germany?” Sheila asked.

“No.” Ruth smiled. “We were in Germany.”

“You mean after the war?” Sheila said.

“No, during. We went to visit my grandparents and had to stay.” Ruth rested her eyes on a photo of her with her parents and younger siblings. “That photo was taken right before we left for Germany. There were rumors of Hitler, but we didn’t know how bad it was.”

“How could you not know? Everyone knew, didn’t they?” Sheila asked.

“My dear, your education has been neglected.” Ruth smiled lovingly at the girl. “It was 1938. The government didn’t want to publish stories. Remember, we weren’t far along from the First World War.”

“No one in your family wrote?” Sheila asked.

“The mail was searched. Nothing could get through. Father did hear something, but the government didn’t confirm it, so we went.” Ruth shrugged.

“This is like a movie. How long were you there?”

“Seven years.” Ruth answered.

“Seven years? Why didn’t you leave?”

“My father was a scientist who had information that the Nazis wanted. We were held there.” Ruth said.

“Held? No one came to get you?” Sheila’s jaw dropped.

Ruth chuckled. “Who could come? The Nazis weren’t exactly letting people travel through Europe easily. Plus, we were hiding.”

“Hiding? You mean like Anne Frank?”

“Sort of.”

“Did you see soldiers and bombings?”

“Yes, I saw soldiers and bombings and things no one should see.” Ruth spoke sadly.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to upset you.”

“No need to apologize.” Ruth shook her head. “People are titillated by the horrors of war but it's devastating. It's not something to be taken lightly. I haven't thought about the war in a long time.”

“I can’t believe you were in hiding though. You never mentioned it.”

“What good would it do? Living in the past can sometimes make things seem worse than they were. And it’s not healthy. Everyone today wants to talk about their past as if it’s the most fascinating thing. It’s not. The war happened. We got on,” Ruth said.

Sheila looked back at the picture of Ruth’s parents surrounded by seven children. “The baby was beautiful. Is that you?”

“No. That’s Annabelle. I’m the oldest, with the long hair. I was twelve.”

“You were adorable!” Sheila searched for a resemblance.

As Ruth looked at Sheila, she realized that Joe’s leaving had been the worst thing to happen in her young life. She truly didn’t know any other hardship. Sheila may not know how to move on, Ruth considered. Although Ruth didn’t like to talk about the past, she wondered if her friend might learn something from it.

“I tell you what. If you bring the tea to the coffee table, we’ll sit on my old red couch and I’ll tell you a little of what happened while we eat those cupcakes.”

Review Rating: 4 LIGHTNING BOLTS

Review: A moving story about friendship, truth, and life, Finding Out is something any modern woman can relate to today. 

Sheila has just had a bombshell tossed her way. On top of that, she's got a few new people to deal with at work, and it looks like things are going to be bumpy for awhile. When Sheila starts making friends with a neighbor, that's when things start to change around.

Filled with tender moments, laughter, and situations that can be so close to home, Finding Out is a journey of a story that kept me intrigued the entire way. 

Sheryn MacMunn self-published her debut novel, Finding Out, in April 2012. It became an Amazon best-seller in two months, hitting the Contemporary Women and Contemporary Fiction list. FINDING OUT then hit best-seller status in the Single Women, Friendship, Romance, and Love & Romance categories as well. In addition to being a self-published author, Sheryn works full-time in Mobile ad sales. Sheryn attended University of Massachusetts, Lowell and received her MBA from Simmons College School of Management. She now lives in Connecticut with her family. for more information.

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