- Bethany House Pub;
The arrival of a new transfer student spells emotional upheaval for the Gardner family when it is revealed that he is the result of a brief affair that Tom Gardner, a devoted family man and high-school principal, had years earlier.
The Longfellow poem that Spencer uses for the title of her new melodrama urges "my heart [to] stay at home." But high-school principal Tom Gardner almost loses home and family because of a long-ago betrayal. When transfer student Kent Arens enrolls at Tom's suburban St. Paul school, Tom realizes that Kent's mother, Monica, is the college acquaintance he took to bed the night of his bachelor party in a brief rebellion against having to marry his pregnant girlfriend, Claire; Kent is the son the principal didn't know he had. Tom delays telling English teacher Claire and children Robby, a senior, and Chelsea, a junior, this secret, until Kent and Chelsea appear to be attracted to one another. There's a hothouse quality to this confrontation: the only major characters who don't spend their time at the high school are Monica, a 3M engineer, and Tom's wise-old-man father; Kent and Robby are rival candidates for homecoming king and bump shoulders on the football team; and Kent is a student in Claire's honors English class. All the characters are such decent folk that it's clear from the start their wounds will heal and they'll find ways to forgive one another. Spencer's latest is as simple but satisfying as the made-for-TV movie it may well become. A main selection of both the Literary Guild and the Doubleday Book Club. Mary Carroll