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Chasm Between Father and Son at Center of Compelling Story of Love, Loss and Forgiveness

Chasm Between Father and Son at Center of Compelling Story of Love, Loss and Forgiveness

(This press release may be reprinted in part or entirety by any print or broadcast media outlet, or used by any means of social media sharing.)


Bill Smith’s father is an enigma. Could his praying and preaching the wholesomeness of Christianity be a cover for something unspeakably dark in his past?
Each man’s lifelong struggle to retain his own integrity while learning to respect the other forms the foundation of The Home Stretch, a compelling exploration of a difficult father-son relationship and the complexity of bridging seemingly unbridgeable differences.

Award-winning author Wayne M. Johnston’s thoroughly absorbing, reality-based story is presented through the voice of everyman Bill Smith (loosely based on Johnston himself) who, throughout his life, is confronted with extraordinary circumstances. Raised in a religious cult, Bill’s unconventional upbringing and strained relationship with his father inform his life experiences and underwrite his formidable urge, from a young age, to simply escape this life altogether.

Bill struggles with depression and suicidal thoughts, and embarks upon a career navigating the rough waters of the Pacific on a tugboat. His tales of weathering gale-force winds and violent storms at sea provide metaphorical undercurrents for Bill’s fraught relationship with his father, his failed early marriage, his father’s descent into Alzheimer’s and his own battle with leukemia, which he is told will kill him.

Just when Bill has come to believe he has put the worst of it to rest, he learns something more about his father that opens everything up again, except this time, Bill’s sister is the victim.

Ultimately, The Home Stretch is a powerful coming-of-age story for grownups that poignantly captures the unresolved emotions that surface when our past and present selves collide. Johnston gives readers candid glimpses into life-defining moments of reckoning that many of us will have to face head-on, such as retiring from a career that defines us, becoming a caregiver to a parent and contemplating our own mortality. The Home Stretch serves as a stark reminder that the peace we hope for as we age is often shoved aside to make room for another crisis, but it is also an inspiring tale woven with themes of forgiveness and survival.

Wayne M. Johnston taught English, Creative Writing and Publications at La Conner High School for 19 years. Prior to that, he worked on tugboats for 22 years, usually as chief engineer, towing freight barges between Canadian and West Coast American ports. In 2011, he won the Soundings Review First Publication Award for his essay, “Sailing,” and has published other essays locally. For his debut novel, North Fork, he drew from years of experience reading student journals to reproduce the way kids voice serious matters to a trusted adult. North Fork was released in 2016 as a YA novel. The story is told through the voices of three 17-year-olds as journal entries for their English class. Bill Smith, the protagonist in The Home Stretch, is their English teacher, and The Home Stretch (book two in a planned trilogy) is his back story.

Johnston lives with his wife, Sally, on Fidalgo Island in Washington State where he is working on another book.

The Home Stretch
Publisher: Black Heron Press
ISBN-10: 1936364344
ISBN-13: 978-1936364343
Available from,, and anywhere books are sold

Trish Stevens
Stephanie Williams
Ascot Media Group, Inc.
Post Office Box 2394
Friendswood, TX 77549
281.333.3507 Phone

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