Jenny Lucas swore she’d never go home again. But being told you’re dying has a way of changing things. Years after she left, she and her five-year-old daughter, Isabella, must return to her sleepy North Carolina town to face the ghosts she left behind. They welcome her in the form of her oxygen tank–toting grandmother, her stoic and distant father, and David, Isabella’s dad . . . who doesn’t yet know he has a daughter. As Jenny navigates the rough and unknown waters of her new reality, the unforgettable story that unfolds is a testament to the power of love and its ability to change everything—to heal old hurts, bring new beginnings . . . even overcome the impossible.
I had been eagerly awaiting the release of this book. I have been reading the Novel Journey website, which Holmes founded, for years and have been reading about her journey to publication. I've enjoyed reading her blog entries so I had a feeling that I was going to enjoy her style of writing in a novel format. I was right.
I was drawn into the story immediately. The characters really get to you from young Isabella to hurting Jenny to loving Mama Peg. Jenny's relationship with her family takes a while to unpeel as we slowly learn the reason why she left home all those years ago. Equally enthralling to read is the relationship with Isabella's father and the pain he caused her in their past and how it still is affecting her today. Jenny is a complex character who is hurting and is trying to make things right or at least plan for the future before time runs out. While I liked her character, the same cannot be said about David who I disliked throughout the entire book. Personally I found him to be one of those parents who simply want custody just get back at the other parent.
The story went into a direction I was not expecting. I guess I've been trained by other books that share a similar plot to manipulate your heartstrings and force the reader to feel emotion. While this book does have a cloud hanging over the story due to the topic, I never felt as if I had to cry while reading. I felt for the characters, ached with Jenny and the decisions she had to make and the pain she felt from her past. But never in the story did I feel as if Holmes was deliberately trying to make me side with Jenny and think that everything she does or every decision she made was the right one. It's refreshing for a change to let the reader be able to decide what they want to take away from the story.
Overall, I thought this was a fantastic debut. I know this story has been long in the making for Holmes and it's definitely paid off. I really enjoyed reading it and it's one I'll be sure to spread the word about. There's a sneak peak of her next book in the back of this one and from the excerpt it looks really good. I know I will be anxious to read it.
Crossing Oceans by Gina Holmes is published by Tyndale (2010)
This review copy was provided for a blog tour with the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance