Family bonds are inescapable. After losing his pregnant wife and her family in a Christmas Eve tsunami in Brisbane, former cop Frank Mercy joins rescue efforts to occupy himself in the face of impossible grief. On the water, he saves a young boy from a sinking van. In shock, neither can let the other go.

Wordlessly, the little boy, whom Frank senses he should name Ian, clings to him. Something about Ian prevents Frank from relinquishing him to the Red Cross. Instead, they find a way to return together to Frank's Wisconsin family farm, eager to make a new life.

Jacquelyn Mitchard's new novel, "Two If by Sea," is a gripping family saga buoyed by hope and second chances.

Recovering from the tragedy, Frank and Ian take solace in horses. It's a passion they share with Claudia, an equestrian and psychiatrist who sees past Frank's psychic scars and recognizes, with ever-growing awareness, Ian's ability to communicate telepathically with animals and humans. As Frank trains Claudia to participate in the Olympics, this unusual trio finds their voice as they heal and grow in love.

Unfortunately, Frank and Claudia cannot protect Ian from malevolent individuals who wish to profit from his gift. A series of brutal crimes encroaches increasingly closer to home and prompts this tender new family to flee Wisconsin for safety abroad. Racing to its conclusion, Mitchard's sweeping prose suspends natural boundaries. She forges a fresh sense of faith despite incredible odds.

Lauren LeBlanc is a freelance book editor and writer, as well as a senior nonfiction editor at Guernica magazine. A native New Orleanian, she lives in Brooklyn.