In Linda Spalding’s novel, A Reckoning, ill fortune befalls a family with a farm in Virginia, ten years before the Civil War. The state is in a crisis of conscience. An abolitionist lies to gain the family’s trust; then persuades a slave to flee. A reckless brother wastes the family’s fortune. Broken, the family escapes to the west on a wagon train; Martin, thirteen-years old, brings a bear with him. Beginning then, Martin chooses for himself what his manhood will become. A story based on Linda Spalding’s family history: her great-great-grandfather had been like Martin. A deeply affecting novel that describes past nightmares trickling into today.