Home at Last
by Deborah Raney
Why did their differences matter so much?
Link Whitman has settled into the role of bachelor without ever intending to. Now he's stuck in a dead-end job and, as the next Whitman wedding fast approaches, he is the last one standing. The pressure from his sisters' efforts to play matchmaker is getting hard to bear as Link pulls extra shifts at work, and helps his parents at the Chicory Inn.'
All her life, Shayla Michaels has felt as if she straddled two worlds. Her mother's white family labeled her African American father with names Shayla didn't repeat in polite---well, in any company. Her father's family disapproved as well, though they eventually embraced Shayla as their own. After the death of her mother, and her brother Jerry's incarceration, life has left Shayla's father bitter, her niece, Portia, an orphan, and Shayla responsible for them all. She knows God loves them all, but why couldn't people accept each other for what was on the inside? For their hearts?
Everything changes one icy morning when a child runs into the street and Link nearly hits her with his pickup. Soon he is falling in love with the little girl's aunt, Shayla, the beautiful woman who runs Coffee's On, the bakery in Langhorne. Can Shayla and Link overcome society's view of their differences and find true love? Is there hope of changing the sometimes---ugly world around them into something better for them all?
My thoughts: First, the disclaimer. "I was provided a free copy of this book. All opinions are my own." That done, HOME AT LAST is the fifth and final (?) book in Ms. Raney's Chicory Inn series. I've read all the books in the collection and I have to say that while I looked forward to Link's story I have never seen this one coming.
I have mixed feelings. I am white. I was friends with people of color - not just black. We hung out and had fun. My best garage-saling buddy was a black lady. I used to love shopping with her. And quite frankly, I have never seen the level of hatred between races that was demonstrated in this book.
You can call me sheltered. I will admit it. I am. I grew up in St. Louis. And yes, schools were segregated then, so I didn't have much interaction. I lived and worked in Batesville, AR, Grand Rapids, MI, and Springfield, MO and interacted daily with people of different color. They are just people. Like me. Like you. I don't get it. Honestly.
But then there was all the violence between law enforcement and people in one of the St. Louis subdivisions. Ferguson, I think. And it was mentioned in this book, multiple times. My son worked for the sheriff department. Not in Ferguson. He told me the law enforcement side of the story. I get that I got one side and not the other. I'm not arguing the point. Even though I may not agree with the dad's point of view in this story, since I look at it with a law enforcement perspective, I can see why the dad would react the way he did when it came to calling the police since he seemed to equate it with the Ferguson incident.
Okay, and then there's the whole don't get involved because the girl's brother is in prison angle. They are a Christian family - both are, even though the girls dad is an extreme racist. Well, her family is, really. But even good families have children that make bad decisions. Trust me. I know. It has nothing to do with the family. And I would hate to have my future son-in-law's family judge me and my family because my adult son made (and is making) terrible decisions. The boy was raised right. I pray for him daily. But he has free will. So that angle hurt--a lot. It was like a slap in the face.
This book was beautifully written. There is a lot of angst in it. Tension. But there is also a lot of judgement on families due to adult children's choices, racial issues, and other drama to work through. It was heart-wrenching. Hurtful, since I'm on one side of the coins being examined.
This is not a book you read, close with a pleasant sigh and go about your day. This is a thought-provoking book that will make you think and rethink issues.
I loved Link. Totally.
Meet the Author
Deborah Raney's books have won numerous awards, including the RITA, National Readers Choice Award, HOLT Medallion, and the Carol Award, and have twice been Christy Award finalists. She and her husband, Ken, recently traded small-town life in Kansas---the setting of many of Deborah's novels---for life in the (relatively) big city of Wichita, where they enjoy gardening, antiquing, movies, and traveling to visit four children and a growing brood of grandchildren who all live much too far away.
Find out more about Deborah at http://deborahraney.com.
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