The New York Times bestselling author of A Long Time Gone now explores a Southern family’s buried history, which will change the life of the woman who unearths it, secret by shattering secret. It has been two years since the death of Merritt Heyward’s husband, Cal, when she receives unexpected news—Cal’s family home in Beaufort, South Carolina, bequeathed by Cal’s reclusive grandmother, now belongs to Merritt. Charting the course of an uncertain life—and feeling guilt from her husband’s tragic death—Merritt travels from her home in Maine to Beaufort, where the secrets of Cal’s unspoken-of past reside among the pluff mud and jasmine of the ancestral Heyward home on the Bluff. This unknown legacy, now Merritt’s, will change and define her as she navigates her new life—a new life complicated by the arrival of her too young stepmother and ten-year-old half-brother. Soon, in this house of strangers, Merritt is forced into unraveling the Heyward family past as she faces her own fears and finds the healing she needs in the salt air of the Low Country.
For anyone who reads my blog, they know when I like I book I review and when I don’t. Let me save you the hassle of having to read everything below – and let me tell you now – I LOVED THIS BOOK! It was probably the first book that emotionally moved me – both happy and sad – in a very long time – not just sniffles either. I full on cried in parts of this book, mostly because I was so moved by the story.
The author, Karen White, does a fantastic job getting us acquainted with her lead characters and takes us through their life experiences causing them to be who they have become. She leads us through their lives as if we were right there with them living in the Lowcountry of South Carolina. I could almost hear the sound of the sea glass wind chimes dancing in the breeze, feel the humidness of Beaufort and smell the salty air near the water’s edge, and see the strong women forming unlikely friendships.
Since the book’s intro gives you the basic story of this book, I won’t give you the “blow by blow”. I will tell you though, that the main characters, Merritt, her stepmother, Loralee, and Loralee’s son (and Merritt’s half brother) Owen are very believable and characters. They each have a story of their own that is interwoven into the main plot of the book. Each piece of the puzzle leads us through both the love and the pain of family, along with forgiveness, strength, courage and letting go and moving forward. They deal with real life issues such as abuse, hatred, family secrets, death and cancer. Ms. White’s writing allows the story to flow very timely – not rushed, but not once was I bored wishing the book would move faster.
A couple of quotes from the book sharing more about the characters and the story:
“Everybody carries their hurts in different ways, but everybody’s got them. Everybody. Some people are just better at hiding them.”
“When my own mama died, I spent a lot of time on the beach staring at the water until i learned what I was suppose to. And I did. I finally figured out that when the waves come ashore and wipe away all the footprints, it’s like God telling you that starting again is part of life. It saved me.”
I love books that take place in real cities and real places in the United States that I’ve either visited or have heard of before reading a book. When the book revealed that the property was located in Beaufort, South Carolina, I looked the city up on the internet and found out as much as I could. It was really cool to see that the book was on point and accurately depicted the low country area of South Carolina, which helped in the believability of this story.
If you have work to do around the house, I urge you to take care of it before you think about picking up this book because I promise you that once you have this book in hand, you will forget about anything other than the next page of this book! I was completely taken in by the book from the moment I began reading it. I found myself reading every single chance I could until I was at the very last page…… and then I was disappointed that the story was over. I probably would have kept reading each day in their lives, had Ms. White kept writing.
I give this book 5 full stars and tell everyone it is a “must read” for sure! The next time I see a book by Karen White, I won’t hesitate to pick it up, that’s for sure!
Thank you so much NetGalley and PENGUIN GROUP Berkley, NAL / Signet Romance, DAW for providing me with a digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest review and unbiased opinion.