Katherine Gardner is awakened at 6:30 in the morning with a call from a strange woman who claims to have her granddaughter, Rio. This woman is calling the police if Katherine doesn’t make arrangements for somebody to pick this little girl up.
Katherine is fifty-six years old and all alone, since her husband died over three years ago. Her life takes a dramatic turn when six-year old Rio comes to stay with her. Rio is a scared little girl whose life is filled with uncertainty and fear.
In her grandmother, Rio finds a safe haven and an unconditional love that she has never known in her six short years and Katherine has found a love to fill the void that has been absent for way too long.
Unfortunately Katherine’s daughter, who deserted Rio, has other ideas.
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At What Price? By: P.A. Estelle
Retired and widowed, Kat Gardner welcomes her six-year-old granddaughter into her life when the child's mother disappears. The years are kind to Kat and Rio, giving them a chance to learn trust and how to laugh together. But those happy moments are interrupted every couple of years when Rio's mom shows up. A drug addict, Mom steals everything not nailed down, leaving Kat with a difficult choice – give in to extortion or lose the granddaughter she loves.
P.A. Estelle weaves a story of a family caught in the grips of addiction well. Little Rio's fears about abandonment in the beginning breaks your heart, and the trust built between grandmother and granddaughter comes through in little ways. The way addiction affects a whole family, to the emotional loss of the individual trapped by their desires, to the family struggling to understand and help in any way they can. The ending will leave the reader with the sense of being able to survive, no matter how much the addict wants to suck them dry. This story is a must for everyone, no matter their circumstance.
4.0 out of 5 stars
A grandmother comes face to face with her daughter's life challenges when she gets a call from an irate stranger. The stranger has graciously taken care of the main character's granddaughter for several days but can no longer do so. And suddenly the grandmother knows what she must do, although she embraces her role as a mother a second time over with some trepidation in P. A. Estelle's short story "At What Price?" Estelle, a talented young adult author, offers her first story aimed at adult readers and puts together a worthy attempt.
As the story opens, Katherine Gardner waits on her porch for the visitor she knows will arrive soon. When Katherine sees the dust of the approaching car, she settles herself on the porch swing. She knows her daughter, Lacey, is in the vehicle, and she begins to remember what brought her to this moment in her life.
Several years earlier Katherine gets a phone call from a woman in Houston. The woman says Lacey had dropped off Katherine's granddaughter, Rio, with the assertion that she would return in a few hours. When Lacey doesn't show up for four days, the woman tracks her down and threatens to call the police. Lacey pleads with the neighbor to call Katherine instead.
Blown away by the enormity of the task before her, Katherine stays in the moment anyway and convinces the woman to put Rio on a plane from Houston to Arizona so Katherine can bring her home. Tentative at first both Katherine and Rio don't know quite what to do with each other, but as time passes Rio comes to trust her grandmother and love her with the ferocity Katherine has missed from her own daughter.
Despite Rio's loyalty Katherine still questions her own mothering skills. Lacey can't seem to stay sober or employed long enough to provide for her own daughter, the product of a high school romance. But Rio's continued confidence and faith in her "Mimi" gives Katherine the encouraging boost she needs. As the years pass and Rio continues to live with Katherine, Katherine comes to realize that Lacey made certain choices that were out of her control and that she has to let go of the blame and guilt for them.
Just as Katherine and Rio settle into an easy routine and rhythm, Lacey makes another appearance in their lives--one in the string of many--and Katherine finds herself making a difficult choice.
Author Estelle handles the emotional portions of the story with ease. She has dedicated this short story to her own grandchildren and can probably identify with Katherine's driving force to care for the child in her home--an emotion all grandparents feel for the young children in their lives. Some of the dialogue may move the story a little too quickly, a possible consequence from Estelle's depth of experience as a YA writer. She doesn't always take the time and luxury afforded by an adult story to fully develop the characters' feelings and interactions. These elements, however, become only minor hitches to the story as a whole; with time and a little practice, Estelle no doubt has the makings of a fine adult short story author. Even with its small hiccups "At What Price?" winds to a satisfying and touching end.
I highly recommend "At What Price?" for readers who enjoy good stories about the reality of the challenges families face today.
An emotional story of six-year old Rio who is deserted by her mother and is rescued by her grandmother. A deep love, is born between these two, but conflict rears it's ugly head when Rio's mother comes back into the picture.
This is a short story that brought tears to my eyes. I highly recommend this story and look forward to more stories from P. A. Estelle.