Another great read by Karen White! This book is a few years old (now) but still one that boasts of true love and friendship, romance, and finding out what we're truly made of. It's also a story about discovering that it's not always blood that makes you family but a willingness to "show up" and just do your best that bonds you to another person.
Jillian finds herself returning home to her grandmother's house on Pawley's Island, South Carolina, 8 months pregnant, divorced, with her 7 year old daughter Grace in tow. She's faced with living a life she never expected nor wanted and even though she hasn't been back in years, she's always felt like this house, this island was "home". She hopes that being back will bring some peace to her life and give her the fresh start she so desperately needs. Little does she know she'll be forced to relive old fears and open wounds she thought were long forgotten.
She used to spend every summer growing up on the Island and always cherished her time with her Grandma Parrish as well as her two best friends Lauren and Linc. Lauren and Linc were the only two people her age who Jillian could confide in and even though the two were dating, the three friends did everything together. She always felt a special connection with Linc and he was the one who introduced her to the stars, often spending many summer nights trying to help her as she attempted to locate a new star in the night sky. He was also the one who tried his best to protect her from the hurt inflicted by her parents, knowing all too well what it felt like. She and Lauren shared all the secrets that young girls do and were always there for each other right up to the night that Lauren disappeared. Everything changed when Lauren went missing and the blame was placed on Linc. Jillian had total confidence in his innocence but was taken home abruptly by her parents before she was able to tell him.
Almost two decades later, Jilllian and Linc find themselves in the same town, facing old hurts and accusations but as they both search for answers, they quickly realize they are no longer the same people they once were. Grace, Jillian's young daughter and the gift that she seems to have, might hold the clues she and Linc have been searching for in the mystery that still surrounds Lauren's whereabouts but it may also be the undoing of Jillian. They both have obstacles to overcome the biggest being, that maybe the past isn't exactly how they remembered it.
Jillian is damaged and broken but she's also stronger than she gives herself credit for. I liked her determination and honesty too, especially when it came to motherhood. Her struggles are genuine and completely understandable and you can't fault her in the least. You also can't help but be her biggest fan because she doesn't give up despite having all the odds stacked against her, or so it seems.
Linc is just as damaged as Jillian and it's easy to see how the two (as teens) would make more easy friends. He's loving and fiercely protective of those he cares about. He expresses himself best with his hands and what he creates with them, mainly things with wood. He put others first even if it might not be in the best interest of himself, like when he restores Jillian's grandmothers house and sells it to her at an affordable price (unbeknowst to her) instead of making the profit that he could have off of it.
Lauren is beautiful, free spirited and kind and loves Jillian dearly. She tries her best to help protect her friend, albeit differently than Linc, and is always encouraging Jillian in the hopes of helping her. She's not perfect and makes some choices that end up costing her in a big way but she keeps her promises.
Grandma Parrish is a wonderful example of unconditional love! She loves Jillian and is the one bright hope in her life, besides Lauren and Linc. She spends her years loving, praising and doting on Jillian which has a lasting effect long after she's gone. Jillian often defers to things her grandmother shared with her through the years and it goes to show that it's not always quantity but quality of time we spend with children. She only had Jillian in the summers and the occasional holiday but she made that time count which is what was important in the long run.
*SPOILER* Don't read what's below if you haven't read the book yet...
I really did enjoy this story! If you are familiar with Karen White's books, you know that there are generally a couple of steamy scenes that are tastefully done. (*fans face rapidly*) The only other part of this story I feel worth mentioning is Gracie's "gift" of talking to Lauren who we find out is actually dead. I don't personally believe that dead people can speak to the living but I've also never experienced it. Even with this being a work, I know of a few people who would read this review and might be bothered by it so I just wanted to put it out there. :)