Jennifer Sienes takes us on an emotional journey of grief, pain, and survival through the first person voice of Melissa, a mother of three and a brand-new widow. The author is so raw, honest, and spot on with Melissa’s feelings and turmoils that you will feel every one of her emotions – rage, despair, fatigue, numbness, confusion, deep love for her children – as she wades through widowhood and the fallout after her husband’s death. Duncan, her deceased husband’s employer and friend, has a rational first person perspective in the story as his guilty conscience prods him to help Melissa and her children. Emily, Melissa’s teenage daughter, adds a refreshing voice and age-appropriate drama as she struggles to find who she is and what she stands for. How she deals with death is very different from her younger brothers and true to life.
This book is not a light book and the author addresses several deep issues like grief and mental health disorders, but they are handled with care and sensitivity. I really felt like I was frantically treading water along with Melissa as she gasped for breath after breath with continuous waves crashing over her. How her faith handled these waves was quite realistic.
As the book unfolds, everyday happenings in a small town trigger tears and questions without answers but also bring glimpses of hope, healing, and joy. The supporting cast of Kent the Pastor, Ryan the brother, and Karyn the friend is quite wonderful and rounds out the cast of believable and lovable characters who will feel like your friends at the end of the book. You’ll cry and grieve for Melissa but also cheer her on as she begins her healing journey. You’ll fall in love with Duncan as his friendship grows with Melissa and starts his own journey to forgiveness and reconciliation.
Fans of women’s fiction would absolutely adore this book. Though it’s book 3 in the author’s Apple Hill series, it can be read as a stand-alone.