The Circle Game
by Tanya Nichols
Bernadette “Bernie” Sheridan, has the Carlos Luna’s case in the bag. She’s smart, confident, and fueled by personal tragedy. She knows all too well what’s at stake for the six-year-old, Mexican-American boy, who lost his parents to a negligent driver. After all, her own mother and father – her adopted parents – died tragically when she was only thirteen, and she’s been struggling with the emotional loss ever since. Now, nearing forty and jaded as ever, she’s adamant about saving Carlos from a fate similar to her own, even if only by winning him a healthy monetary settlement. Even if it means she must hearken back to a painful childhood in order to do so.
There are other obstacles waiting for Bernie: a hotshot, misogynist defense attorney will challenge her case; her beloved grandmother’s deteriorating health will threaten her only semblance of family; and a handsome economist will begin to test her iron-clad vulnerability. Surely, she’ll be able to forge past all this chaos. For Carlos’s sake. But what will happen when her birth mother, Julie, tries to reenter the picture thirty-seven years after giving her away? Will Bernie decide to toss that aside too, on her martyrly mission for justice? Meeting Julie may be just the thing Bernie needs to win the Luna’s case in the end. And learning her harrowing story may also provide the missing piece in the tragic puzzle of her haunted childhood.
Told through the verging, alternating viewpoints of two broken women in two different eras, The Circle Game is at once a thoughtful commentary on female agency, racial bias, and domestic abuse, as well as a nuanced novel wrought with literary heft and profound psychological tension.