Friday, February 17, 2017

When We Last Spoke by Marci Henna

I usually prefer books that are suspenseful and action-packed, but since I have fallen in love with The Mitford Series by Jan Karon, I've become more open-minded about slow, "folksy" books. When We Last Spoke promised to be just that, so I looked forward to escaping into a simpler, better time. The book, set mostly in and around the 1960's, is the story of two sisters who were raised by their grandparents in the sleepy little town of Fireside, Texas. It opens as Juliet, the older of the sisters, is going through some of the old possessions of her late grandparents. We're zipped back into the childhood memories of Juliet, and are introduced to her sister Evangeline, her grandparents Walt and Ruby, and other memorable townsfolk and kin.

When We Last Spoke was difficult for me to get into, but I kept reading, hoping that it would begin to pull on my heartstrings and whisk me away to little town of Fireside. did...a little. While the characters were interesting and the tales of the people were charming, there was something missing. It came close to being really good, but fell short. It lacked heart. It seemed that the author tried a little to hard to be humorous and, while sometimes it worked, often it didn't. The book wound up feeling choppy and at some points, hard to follow. For a book that was supposed to be realistic, there were some pretty unbelievable situations. Still, I did find myself relating to some of the characters more than I thought they would, and some portions of the story were genuinely moving. One especially good and appreciated fact about this book: it's clean! However, there is a little bit of language, which I found very disappointing.

So if you're looking for a slow, meandering read and you're good at suspending your disbelief, this is your book. I'm sure there are many who would enjoy it more than I did!

More about the book:

With the heart and humor of Fannie Flagg’s Fried Green Tomatoes and Rebecca Wells’s Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, author Marci Henna introduces you to the Cranbournes—a mostly lovable and undoubtedly nutty family who’ve had more than their fair share of hard times.

A beautiful blend of tears and laughter, When We Last Spoke tells the tale of sisters Juliet and Evangeline, who are dropped off by their Broadway-bound mother at their paternal grandparents’ Texas ranch in 1967. After their cherished father is killed in Vietnam, the girls are orphaned. Still mourning their son’s death, grandparents Walt and Ruby accept their role as guardians, only to be surprised soon after by another permanent houseguest’s arrival—Walt’s kooky mother, Itasca.

Fast-forward to the present, where the warmhearted home in which the girls grew up is now just a faint memory. The estranged sisters are in need of a good dose of Walt’s famous stargazing wisdom: “You’ve got to look real close. Pay attention to what’s around you in this life. You’re liable to miss something important if you don’t.”

Packed with plenty of quirky characters and hilarious escapades, this must-read novel also digs in deep to the things that matter most—family, friends, love, and forgiveness.