Gwen Raine is a woman readers will instantly recognize: an attractive, thirtyish stay-at-home mom who lives in the kind of tranquil suburban community where the wives spend their days ferrying the kids to and from school and music lessons and nature camps and where the husbands work long, grueling hours at stressful white-collar jobs in order to maintain the upscale standard of living to which the whole family has become all-too-accustomed. Its a milieu in which everything seems to be right - yet so much can go wrong.
And it doesstarting with a seemingly minor decision that turns Gwens perfect life upside down. Its a typical Friday morning in late summer and Gwen is anticipating a long-awaited weekend away at the lake with her overworked husband, Brian, and their two small children. After dropping her daughter off at swim class, Gwen drives across town to purchase a small bag of marijuana from an old flame. Shes counting on the pot to help her unwind later that night in those precious private moments with Brian after the kids are asleep. Then, on the way home, Gwen gets into a car accident - an accident that leaves her bruised and somewhat battered but leaves the other driver (an elderly man who crossed over into her lane) dead. The local police know the accident isnt her fault, but when they find the marijuana in Gwens car, they throw the book at her. There have been problems with drugs in the schools and they want to crack down on abusers, whoever and wherever they are. Before long, Gwen is in legal hot water - and the temperature keeps rising. Finally, under pressure from the police, her attorney, and her own husband, she reveals her sources name.
Meanwhile, Brian is embroiled in a moral and legal dilemma of his own when the big pharmaceutical company he works for markets an anti-anxiety drug for "off-label" use as a weight-loss aid, only to discover that it can have deadly consequences. And Gwens former lover Jude, a local restaurateur and the supplier of the stash of the title, has gotten in way over his head with his little side business.
Told from multiple perspectives and revolving around a diverse set of vividly imagined characters, this rich, ambitious, and deeply satisfying novel takes a mordant look at our societys ambivalent and often hypocritical attitude toward all manner of mood-altering substances, legal and illegal. Paced by psychological suspense and an ever-thickening plot, Stash ultimately is about the moral complications that arise when a modern womans fierce determination to do the right thing collides head-on with human fallibility and desire.
"Klein paints a sometimes too clinical picture of an idyllic suburban life..." - Publishers Weekly
"Fans of both domestic drama and corporate intrigue will enjoy it." - Library Journal
"A very adult remake of an after-school special that's driven by story, not lessons." - Kirkus
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Rated of 5
In addition to being a "page turner", this book speaks to the issues surrounding the business of drug development, and the use of "recreational" drugs in our society. The book would be ideal for holding a discussion group. The writing keeps the reader engaged and wanting to know the fate of each the characters. I highly recommend this exciting novel.
Rated of 5
Kelly P. (Lake Oswego, OR)
Stash & Consequences
I asked to review this novel due to two interesting jobs I have had with the State of Oregon: I was the first manager of Oregon's Medical Marijuana Program (following a voter initiative in 1999), and I currently work for the Oregon State Police. In the course of these two jobs, I have had numerous contacts with marijuana users (primarily medical but also "recreational"), their physicians, their attorneys, and their families; and also with law enforcement officers trying to deal with the conflicts between state and federal law. I was struck by the even-handed and non-judgmental presentation of the issues explored by the novel, and found it kept my attention throughout. The writing was above average, the story engaging (with some unexpected twists), and the characters were intriguing and well-developed. I also appreciated the dual plot-lines of "legal" and "illegal" drugs, and the many ways one's life can be derailed in an instant. This book is somewhat reminiscent of "Little Children" (in a good way). I would recommend it.
Rated of 5
William B. (East Peoria, IL)
A Strong Marriage
Very enjoyable first novel, compelling story. I would recommend this for book clubs. The ending, in particular, would be good fodder for conversation.
Rated of 5
Laura A. (Jeremiah, KY)
I thought this book was interesting. It takes a look at how drug use occurs across a wide sector of the population and the various levels of involvement from each (rare occasional user, young/beginner user, moderate user, seller) and law officials who try to stop the sale and use of it altogether. It looks at how all of these people are tied together and at what point is it acceptable and at what point is it not. It would be a good book club choice.
Rated of 5
Teresa C. (Pickerington, OH)
I really enjoyed this book. It was not only a book that kept my attention but it made me think and put myself in each of the character's shoes. The author did a great job with character development. I was able to feel empathy for each of the characters although they were all flawed, and had made mistakes that impacted not only one another but had far reaching affects. Great book...hard to believe it is the author's first novel!
Rated of 5
Lola T. (Broken Arrow, OK)
I must start with a disclaimer; that is I have a real problem with a casual treatment of any kind of substance abuse in any entertainment format. That said, once I put aside that prejudice and judged the book, I found it to be a good read. If a book group enjoys books that provoke discussion on ethical and social issues, this might be a good choice. But if the group would rather debate the literary merits of a book, I would not consider it. Ultimately, by the end of the book, I was not sorry that I'd put the time into reading it, since it was entertaining. I just had a problem with the nagging feeling that I was reading a book that perhaps was written with an eye towards being picked up by a motion picture company.
David Klein is a native of upstate New York whose short fiction has appeared in a variety of literary magazines. He owns and operates a marketing communications firm in Delmar, New York, where he lives with his wife and two children. He is at work on a second novel.
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