First Line: "A powerful CRACK! broke the pre-dawn hush as a bolt of lightning seared into the field, briefly illuminating the clapboard farmhouse."
Summary: Dorothy Jean Wetstra has lived all of her eighty-seven years in a farmhouse near the town of Partonville. She has recently begun to think about the fact that she won't be around forever. Maybe it is time to sell the property on Crooked Creek. Dorothy is just not sure she is ready to leave yet.
Meanwhile, life goes on in Partonville. The biggest news is the death of Tess Walker, a member of the community who had kept to herself for many years. Dorothy had been good friends with her when they were young, but life had taken its toll and Tess had retreated to her home where she rarely welcomed visitors. Her only living relative is a niece who lives in Chicago.
Katie and her son, Josh, are making the trip to Partonville to take care of Tess's arrangements. Katie hasn't been to Partonville since she left for college. She views the town as slow, backward and annoying. Josh can't wait to see this town he has heard so much about. Katie plans to spend as little time there as possible. However, Dorothy's kindness and love begin to melt Katie's rough exterior.
My thoughts: Occasionally I come across a story that is satisfying from beginning to end. This is one of those stories. From the get-go we learn that Dorothy is full of life and zest even if she is gaining on ninety. She has a firm faith and sees God's hand in everything. She loves to get out into nature, often accompanied by Sheba "Queen of the Mutt Dogs". Pink is her favorite color and she wears it with relish. Her ancient car, dubbed "The Tank", takes her where she needs to go often at a frightening speed. But, most of all, she makes everyone feel loved and accepted.
I did not immediately like Katie, but I definitely related to her. She is a strong, accomplished woman who couldn't wait to leave Partonville for the big city. She is used to power suits and expensive lunches. It hasn't been easy raising her son Josh on her own. She has developed a thick skin to protect herself. What I related to most about Katie is her realization that she has been focusing on the wrong things. As she comes to that realization, she is honest with herself. She doesn't change in the blink of an eye, rather it happens slowly. As she spent time in Partonville, she couldn't deny that the people were kind and that kindness was changing something in her.
Fifteen-year-old Josh and his mom don't have a close relationship. Often, Katie is busy and doesn't have a lot of time for Josh. In his heart of hearts, he longs for a deeper relationship with her. But on the exterior, he is tough, lippy and knows it all. I really liked Josh and how he could see things for what they were. Throughout the course of the story, Dorothy and Josh develop a friendship built on true interest in one another's lives.
There is a lot to like about the supporting characters as well. They are all quirky and often don't go about things in the right way. But each of them is a loyal friend. I look forward to meeting them in future novels.
Throughout the story each of the main characters grows and changes. Some of the main themes are family, friendship, kindness, recognizing what is truly important in life, and making difficult decisions. The author does a great job of infusing the story with humor. There were times I laughed out loud and had to read lines to my husband.
The highest praise I can give this book is that I wanted to pick up the next one in the series the minute I finished. I can't wait to see what is next for Dorothy and her friends.
"Now, don't misunderstand. I love that firstborn child of mine, just the way he is. I simply don't kid myself about reality."
"I can't believe all of what I've heard! She's always so upbeat and funny. So spunky and ready to help. How does she manage to be so positive..."