Calvin Kusek, a WWII pilot and attorney, and his wife, Betsy, escape the 1950s conformity of New York City to relocate to a close-knit town in South Dakota. Their children, Jo and her brother Lance, grow up caring for animals and riding rodeo. When a seat in the State Assembly becomes available, Cal jumps at the chance to repay the community and serves three popular terms. Things change when Cal runs for the U.S. Senate. The FBI investigates Betsy, and a youthful dalliance with the Communist Party surfaces to haunt the Kuseks. Mass hysteria takes over, inflamed by Cal’s political enemies. The American Dream falls apart overnight as the Kuseks try to protect their children from the nightmare that follows. The family is vindicated in a successful libel lawsuit, but the story doesn’t end there: years later, Lance Kusek and his wife and son are brutally attacked, and the mystery then unfolds as to who committed this coldblooded murder, and are they related to the stunning events of decades earlier?
The United States Congress in 1929 passed legislation to fund travel for mothers of the fallen soldiers of World War I to visit their sons’ graves in France. Over the next three years, 6,693 Gold Star Mothers made the trip. In this emotionally charged novel, April Smith breathes life into a unique moment in American history, imagining the experience of five of these women.