When the man she loved years ago returns to town, one young woman’s complicated past rises again, threatening to expose her well-kept secrets.
If Maxine could put her finger on the moment when her life went into a tailspin, she would point back twenty years to the day her daddy died. She tells herself he’s the only person who ever really knew and loved her, and if he hadn’t left her behind, her future would’ve taken a different path. No absentee mother, no stepfather, no rebellious ripping and running during her teenage years. And no JD, who gave her wandering young heart a home, at least for a time.
But that’s over and done with. All grown-up now, Maxine has pledged her heart and ring finger to Theodore Charles, the man she’ll promise to love, honor, and obey in front of God and everybody. At least that’s what she’s telling anybody who will listen. The only folks buying it are the dog and the readers of her column, however. Her best friend and family aren’t having it―not even Celeste, the double bass–playing thirteen-year-old the community of Mount Laurel, North Carolina, believes is Maxine’s adopted sister. And apparently, neither is the newly returned JD, who seems intent on toppling Maxine’s reconstructed life. As her wedding day marches ever closer, Maxine confronts what it means to be really known and loved by examining what’s buried in her own heart and exposing truth that has never seen the light of day.
A Christian fiction novel with a poignant story of romance, a search for truth, and a journey to redemption. For fans of Chris Fabry, Lauren Denton, and Charles Martin.
After reading A Long Time Comin’ last year, I had been anticipating Robin’s new book and it did not disappoint. Robin is a wonderful writer who pulls you right into her character’s world. This story is a story of forgiveness, not only for others but accepting God’s forgiveness and love for ourselves.
I enjoyed the story of Maxine, but I do need to be honest — I did not take to Maxine the way I did Granny B or Evelyn in A Long Time Comin’. I don’t know why! It was fun to run into Evelyn again in this book since she was Maxine’s best friend. To me, Maxine was a very immature and selfish 30-year-old, but then, again, I’ve got a lot of immaturity and selfishness in me as well and I’m quite a bit older. Of course, that’s the point of this story – that there is some of Maxine in all of us.
Maxine, a columnist for a small Christian magazine, is supposed to be getting married, but she has a big secret and at first, I found it insanely naive and selfish of her to believe she was going to marry “her Theodore” without him one day finding out a very, very big secret from her past. If she didn’t feel comfortable sharing this with him before they were married, then I couldn’t figure out how she thought she was going to have a strong marriage. The marriage was going to be built on a foundation of lies. But, of course, that’s the point of Maxine’s journey – learning to unravel the lies and pain and face them.
I also found some of her responses to him after he found out very selfish and uncaring, but I’m not sure she really meant to be that way – just matter of fact about it all. She’s a to-the-point lady in many ways (except when it comes to discussing her past of course. Much like so many of us!)
Maxine works through some of her internal struggle through the columns she writes for the magazine and as a writer myself I was amazed by how Robin managed to write several columns by Maxine in addition to the story. To move your mind from fiction to non-fiction piece within a fictional novel requires a great deal of talent, in my humble opinion. Of course, a great deal of talent is indeed what Robin possesses.
While I did love the characters of the book and the overall story, I will admit that I wasn’t a huge fan of how another member of the family learned of the secret, and the ending left things hanging a bit for me, but only because I wanted more! I’m hopeful we might hear a little more about Maxine and her family in the future, maybe in another book. Otherwise, I will simply allow my imagination to fill in what happened after the book.
Please do not take any comments here about my feelings about Maxine as complaints about Robin’s writing. They are definitely not that. I feel Robin did a wonderful job describing Maxine’s predicament and her reluctance to deal with it, but I was having a hard time having sympathy for Maxine for part of the book because, in the beginning, she was so stinking stubborn about it all and about accepting her past mistakes as her decision and instead seemed to blame others. The fact I feel so strongly about Maxine’s faults, for lack of a better word, is a testament to what a strong writer Robin is. She really pulled me into Maxine’s journey.
I think Robin wrote Maxine as stubborn for a reason and it isn’t as if Maxine doesn’t redeem herself or that her character doesn’t develop throughout the book. She does both of these things, but not in a cookie-cutter way, which is much more realistic than many books in this genre.
Her character growth is messy, complex, and doesn’t have a cute little bow on it.
That’s real life and that’s what Robin writes so well.
I definitely recommend this book for its messages of forgiveness, redemption, and healing. I can’t wait to see what else Robin writes!