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The Connellys of County Down by Tracey Lange
Contemporary fiction

The Connellys of County Down

Repeat author

Tracey Lange is back at Book of the Month – other BOTMs include We Are the Brennans.

Early Release

This is an early release that's only available to our members—the rest of the world has to wait to read it.

by Tracey Lange

Excellent choice

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Quick take

In this moving tale about forgiveness, loyalty, and love’s limits, one family tries to keep it together, together.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Emotional

    Emotional

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_MultipleNarrators

    Multiple viewpoints

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Inspirational

    Inspirational

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_FamilyDrama

    Family drama

Synopsis

When Tara Connelly is released from prison after serving eighteen months on a drug charge, she knows rebuilding her life at thirty years old won’t be easy. With no money and no prospects, she returns home to live with her siblings, who are both busy with their own problems. Her brother, a single dad, struggles with the ongoing effects of a brain injury he sustained years ago, and her sister’s fragile facade of calm and order is cracking under the burden of big secrets. Life becomes even more complicated when the cop who put her in prison keeps showing up unannounced, leaving Tara to wonder what he wants from her now.

While she works to build a new career and hold her family together, Tara finds a chance at love in a most unlikely place. But when the Connellys’ secrets start to unravel and threaten her future, they all must face their worst fears and come clean, or risk losing each other forever.

The Connellys of County Down is a moving novel about testing the bounds of love and loyalty. It explores the possibility of beginning our lives anew, and reveals the pitfalls of shielding each other from the bitter truth.

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Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of The Connellys of County Down.
The Connellys of County Down

Chapter One

When the unit intercom buzzed and the cell door rattled open on its old metal track that morning, Tara breathed a heavy sigh of relief and swore it was the last time she’d ever hear that racket in her life. For 525 consecutive mornings that noise had signaled the start to a day that looked just like the one before, another day when she was told exactly what to do and exactly when to do it.

She’d been restless most of the night, wired with anxiety. Until she walked out the door of that place, something could still go wrong. That wasn’t likely. She had yet to see one woman’s release date changed this late in the game. But that’s how it was when she let herself want something so damn much. The closer she got to getting it, the more she doubted it.

Jeannie had snored like a trucker as usual, but Tara hadn’t bothered nudging the upper bunk with her foot to get her cellmate to turn over and quiet down. It wouldn’t have helped. When the alarm went off at 6:30 a.m., Tara was sitting on her bunk, back against the cinder block wall, knees pulled up to her chest. While she waited she listened, peeled apart the sounds that fused together to create the early-morning white noise of prison life: the ring of a telephone and the guards’ distant conversation, echoes of a cough here and a clearing of a throat there, bodies turning over in their bunks—seeking, for the last few moments of rest, a comfortable position on a metal frame covered by a two-inch mat.

Less than an hour to go. They’d told her to be ready to leave her cell by seven thirty, before morning roll call. The discharge process would be fairly quick, then her sister, Geraldine, would be waiting outside in the parking lot. Tara had hoped her brother would pick her up; Geraldine had a way of shredding Tara’s nerves in short order. On their last phone call three days ago Tara subtly asked about it—I know how busy you are, Ger. Maybe Eddie could make the trip. But Geraldine shot that down, saying Eddie shouldn’t lose a day’s wages and rock the boat at work by asking for time off, never mind so he could pick his sister up from prison, she had added, whispering the last two words, no doubt in case anyone around her overheard.

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Why I love it

I love books about messy family dynamics. The Connellys of County Down takes us back to the heart and soul of this genre: three siblings with their family baggage in tow under one roof, fighting to make their lives just that little bit better every day.

The book opens on Tara Connelly being released from prison. She didn’t expect any fanfare—okay, maybe at least a car ride home?—but she returns to a house already filled with other people’s problems. Her brother, who suffered a brain injury years before, is still struggling to hold down work as a single parent. Her sister is an anxiety ridden compulsive shopper and secretive about her job in a way that raises eyebrows. And the cop who arrested Tara can’t seem to leave her alone...

There’s a quote I highlighted the first time I read this book that I think perfectly encapsulates what makes it so special: “The most honest words didn’t have to be loud or dramatic to cut deep.” Tracey Lange writes with an incredible emotional honesty that makes her characters shine; she also beautifully depicts the day-to-day interactions between loved ones that are imbued with meaning through years of trust and anguish. The Connellys of County Down is so full of heart, and its wonderful message about compassion and forgiveness will stay with me for a long time.

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Member ratings (13,119)

  • Rachel S.

    Woodbridge , NJ

    I loved Tracey Lange’s 1st book so grabbing this was a no-brainer and it did not disappoint! It was hard to not feel for all of the characters and the storyline sucked me in from page 1 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Chelsey N.

    Menifee, CA

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ I thoroughly enjoyed this read. It started right into the story, kept going and finished nicely. Read in 12 hours. Although some areas were anticipated it still had a smooth flow 👏

  • Brittany M.

    Mustang, OK

    Very heartwarming story about a family facing trauma at every turn. Overall a good read and recommend it for a more laidback read. Loved the characters & short story line with a ton of history⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Darcy G.

    Houston, TX

    Wow! Tracey Lange does it again! I loved her debut book, We are the Brennans, and I loved this book. The way Lange writes and her characters stay with me well after I finish her books. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Tiffany M.

    Myrtle creek, OR

    This was a great read…I loved the story of 3 siblings and the special roles and relationships they have. I come from a family of 3 girls and I’m the youngest. Family dynamics really do shape us. 🔥❤️

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