At two, Ian Maguire is both a beautiful and very gifted little boy; and his parents, Monica and Forrest, are justifiably proud of their son. But Ian is special in other ways. Increasingly unresponsive to the world around him, he is content only when alone, rocking in his crib or playing obsessively with his favotire toy, a pocket mirror of his mother's.
Forrest, preoccupied with his high-pressure job, refuses to see anything unusual about his son's behavior, and retreats ever further into his work. Monica, more anxious than even she will admmit, finally takes Ian to be tested. The results are shattering. Her son, the doctors tell her, is probably autistic, certainly psychotic, and there is little hope for improvement.
Confirming her deepest fears, the diagnosis plunges Monica into an agony of uncertainty and guilt. Is Ian's sickness the consequence of Forrest's remoteness, or must she now reveal a secret about Ian's birth she has kept even from her husband?
Confused, her marriage coming apart, Monica sets out to find her own answers. She takes Ian to Galveston Bay, to a place she knew as a child, and, in a startling climax, she discovers the love and understanding they have both needed so badly.
Excerpt from SKYCHILD:
On the day she learned the Wellman place on Galveston Bay had been sold, Monica pulled out the unfinished painting of the pier with the small boat roped alongside. It struck her now as odd, there was little more than a sketch in front of her; surely she had gotten farther along than that. Yet it was not there: the loneliness and silence she meant to capture, the feeling that the pier stretched out into oblivion; all of this was still locked in her mind. What she saw was a primitive assortment of shapes and stark lines against a blank, white background. Just as well.
She shoved it back into the closet, where it had gathered dust for two years, but she could not dismiss the Wellman place from her mind. It stood in silhouette above the sloping lawn down to the bay, dark where light should have been, figures moving where they would not be.
Buzz Wellman would not be readying the place for its season of isolation. He would not be checking the pier for cross members that might have come loose in a storm, or untying the boat and bringing it around to the storage house across the alley in back. He would not be nailing the shutters closed while Hetty polished linoleum and washed up towels and bed linens for the final time of the year, and emptied the cupboards and the Frigidaire of perishable foods. For in fact (as best she knew; she heard little about the Wellmans anymore), they had not returned since the tragic summer of two years ago.
And now some new family would anxiously await the arrival of their first summer at the bay. Probably they didn't know why the house had been put on the market, and if so, wouldn't much care. Nor would they keep it for thirty years as the Wellmans did. People don't hold on to things the way they used to...
Through the morning and afternoon Monica's thoughts remained in proportion, controlled as the brush with which she stroked lifelike images across the canvas in her studio. But in the early evening, just before dark, her thoughts became frightful, haunting invasions. She sat alone and thought of that summer again. She could see the small, wet face, the outstretched arms, and hear the plea that went unheeded.