“In an Instant” by Suzanne Redfearn is the account of a family and a tragedy. The story is told in a first person narrative by Finn Miller, Orange County, California. Her family and some friends are going to near-by Big Bear for a winter vacation with winter sports and without television or radio or internet. Redfearn structures Finn’s conversations in present tense, which pulls readers into the scenes in a personal way. Finn shares her feelings and comments with readers as she is teen learning to drive, struggling with asking a boy to a school dance, and juggling family and friends. Readers follow Finn along in her everyday activities until pylons that hold the ribbon of steel snap from the mountainside, the camper goes out of control, and skids off the snow covered roads.
What follows changes everyone.
I will not give spoilers, but Redfern continues the narrative in Finn’s distinctive first person account. Readers hear her describe the struggle to rescue victims of the mountainside disaster as the minutes tick by as slow as hours, all the unbearable details, the cold, the wind, the helicopter rescue. The tragic story just begins with the rescue, and Finn shares excruciating details as she follows participants through hospital stays and agonizes over their recovery. People try to pretend otherwise, but everyone suffers after this travesty of life.
Redfern’s choice for Finn to narrate this story is what makes it unique and compelling. Readers see everything through the eyes of a teenager who no longer has control over events unfolding around her. She is unsettled, dismayed, and looking for peace. I received a review copy of “In an Instant” from Suzanne Redfearn and Lake Union Publishing. It is an unusual and fascinating book.