Crank Wilson left his South Boston home at sixteen to start a punk band and burn out his rage at the world. Julia Thompson left a secret behind in Beijing that exploded into scandal in Washington, DC, threatening her father's career and dominating her family's life. When Julia and Crank meet at an anti-war protest in Washington in the fall of 2002, the connection between them is so powerful it threatens to tear everything apart.
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Crank Wilson and Julia Thompson love each other madly. But after Crank's huge mistake during the summer, on the road with Crank's rock band Morbid Obesity, they aren't getting along.
Alex Thompson's life is following the script. A pre-law student at Columbia University, she's focused on her grades, her life, and her future. The last thing she needs is to reconnect with the boy who broke her heart. Dylan Paris comes home from Afghanistan severely injured and knows that the one thing he cannot do is drag Alex into the mess he's made of his life. When Dylan and Alex are assigned to the same work-study program and are forced to work side by side, they have to make new ground rules to keep from killing each other. The only problem is, they keep breaking the rules.
Twenty-eight-year-old Carrie Thompson-Sherman has the life she always wanted: her PhD, a prestigious fellowship, and an amazing husband. Her charmed life begins to unravel as a jealous colleague puts her fellowship in jeopardy and a hideous secret Ray carried home from Afghanistan comes to light. Hanging on by a single thread, a disastrous accident puts both her husband and her sister's lives at risk. Heartbroken, Carrie will be faced with the most devastating choice of her life. A choice that will change everything.