So..this was on a list somewhere and so it got on my library holds. I was not impressed. The parallel plots between Jessie's life and Deborah/Toby were well constructed, but the construction showed through.
The language often felt stilted. I especially did not like the way that Mattison used Toby's name. She was Ruben all the time except occasionally when she was Toby. And that was almost okay (if not just a bit annoying), but I really cannot fathom for what reason Mattison would also refer to the main character (the title's referee for Christsakes!) as Toby Ruben.
I thought the second chapter (the art classes with Toby and Jeremiah) was the best section. The best quotes came from this chapter: "Her [own] fear interested her";
"He would carry her shame back... and Reuben would not be able to make this her own funny story when she was ready to tell it.";
"She could recognize the change in the air when anybody in her family, anywhere in the house, began to read. The air was roomier, because the reader was elsewhere."
I found Deborah's death to be okay, but the grieving to be unbearable. I could not believe how patient and understanding and loving Harry was through all this. The POV of the novel really makes Toby's whole world out to be Deborah and yet, he is the patiently waiting and helpful husband. I just finished reading Rachel Bertsche's mediocre book on friendship and maybe I'm just feeling particularly annoyed, but I felt like Toby was just too over the top.
I loved that Berry was so mean. Her story about Deborah being on her way to see a lover and having told Mary Grace but not Toby was funny; but I was also very frustrated at the coincidences of their meeting each other. I would have much preferred for Peter to run away (which he does) and then come back and tell us the story of the old woman with whom he has been. He could have relayed lots of interesting stories of Berry. It was fine to have resolution of her life, but just too much that Toby and Jeremiah both meet her.
Overall, just mediocre. Not a lot of mistakes, readable, but nothing special.