I usually don't have the stomach for so much psychological realism, the first chapter of Once Upon a Day made me clench my stomach and sheild my eyes. Lisa Tucker so clearly evoked one character's loss of his four-year-old daughter in a freak car accident that if I hadn't been reading it for MotherTalk I might have put the book down and taken to my bed.
I'm glad I stuck with it. I sat in my chair and read until my back ached and my eyes begged to close, because I jsut had to see how these threads were woven together at the end. It's been a long time since a book kept me up all night but this one was well worth the sleeplessness. I also thought I wouldn't be able to handle experiencing the sudden loss of child and family through the miracle of fiction until my kids were older, not so young and tender. It turns out that I actually do have the capacity to get over myself and just read the book, and my ability to sacrifice sleep for a good read is undiminished. Things I might not have known if Once Upon a Day had not arrived in my mailbox.
The characters are likable without losing their realistic edge, sometimes they do things that make me want to reach into the book and wring their necks, but that's part of what makes them lovable. The story clips along, leaving just enough information to keep you going but moving slow enough to be a truly satisfying read. I plan on rereading Once Upon a Day because I'm sure there were layers and subtlties I missed in my hurry to get to the end.
Read it, and read it again.