For the record, there is just no nicer person out there in this world than Beth Hoffman. For most of us, she became a part of our lives when she published her first book "Saving Cee Cee Honeycut". She charmed us with her words, then with her presence on and off-line. You see her around the blogs, leaving positive comments and raving about various books, and seems like someone who would be a friend if they lived next door.
I think ALL of us held our breath when she came out with her second book. You want nothing but the best for this woman, but what if it was just OK? How on earth would we handle such a thing? Luckily, none of us (and I am comfortable speaking for y'all) had to deal with that problem. This book is ridiculously wonderful.
Synopsis: Teddi Overman has always had a special gift, and that is seeing the beauty in all things old. From a young age, she delighted in finding an old piece of furniture and transforming it to its former glory. She wasn't the only gifted person in her family...her little brother Josh was nothing short of an animal whisperer, spending most of his time in the woods observing nature and rehabilitating injured animals. But when Josh mysteriously disappears soon after Teddi moves to Charleston to start her career in antiques, an emotional blight settles over Teddi and her parents that never quite recedes. While her parents seem to have given up on ever seeing Josh again, Teddi always has hoped for a miracle. The trouble is, it is hard to move on with your life when you are stuck in the past.
While Teddi's missing brother is the central thread that runs through this charming story, in which we bounce back and forth in time understanding Teddi and Josh's childhood, there is an abundance of riches beyond this plot point. Teddi's awkward relationship with her mother and discovering her mother's secrets. Teddi's friendships with the cast of characters that are vital part of her daily life in Charleston. Teddi's passion for her antique store, finding diamonds in the rough at estate sales, and finding the perfect person for them after restoration. And Teddi's quest for love. This isn't just a story of loss and grief, but one of self-discovery, closure and joy.
My thoughts: This is one of those books you just don't want to end. You want to sink down into it, or better yet, LIVE it. Beth Hoffman accomplishes this by making her characters likable and real, by nestling them in a seductive little town like Charleston, and enveloping it in a warm blanket of hope and love. She does it so well. The closest comparison I can make would be to Marisa de los Santos's books. You want to eat them for dessert.
Don't get me wrong, this isn't all rainbows and puppies. There is loss and heartache in the story, but Teddi and her friends are survivors...they fight against the odds, and they have each other's backs, they have inner strength. I also found it almost intoxicating to read about how Teddi found her calling and pursued it like a dog with a bone and made it successful. I loved the descriptions of the nature that was Josh's passion. His love for God's creatures touched a special place in my heart.
I also appreciated how Hoffman ends the story. It isn't a Disney ending, but was extremely satisfying and gave my heart peace. This is definitely one book you won't want to miss.
A few words about the audio: Our narrator for this book was Jenna Lamia, who is a presence in the industry. She has narrated dozens of amazing books, including Hoffman's "Saving Cee Cee Honeycutt". She sounded a bit young for the character of Teddi, but I soon became used to her in this role and thoroughly enjoyed her interpretation of these characters.
Listening length: 12 hours and 14 minutes (368 pages)
5 out of 5 stars