A week ago, the long-awaited, much-anticipated sequel to A Sweethaven Summer released. (I wasn’t the only waiting for this, right?) And I could not wait to dive in to A Sweethaven Homecoming, return to the Michigan town of Sweethaven and find out what the gang had been up to.
Earlier this year, author Courtney Walsh introduced us to Campbell, who after her mom’s death, journeys to Sweethaven to meet her mom’s core group of childhood friends and help reconnect their lives. I don’t want to spoil anything from that book, so I’ll keep the plot recap to a minimum. Let’s just say the first book left a bit of a cliffhanger, with much to be resolved.
I eagerly dug into the sequel, which focuses more on country music star Meghan Rhodes’ battle for her kids in a not-so-sweet homecoming to Sweethaven. I trudged through the first chapters, not because they were poorly written but because no one was happy. This book is FULL of hard situations. Broken relationships. Insecurity. Feelings of helplessness, bitterness and unforgiveness. At one point in the story, a character says, “God, what is going on? Everyone I love is hurting right now.”
I. Am. So. There.
When I read, I often want to escape the reality of life. As the characters struggled and struggled and struggled some more, I just wanted to put the book down and walk away because I didn’t want to hurt anymore. (I know, it’s just a story, but man, do I love these characters.)
Isn’t that how life is sometimes?
What’s great about this story is that the characters make hard decisions. They do unexpected things: like forgive the unforgivable. They reconcile. They choose to fight for what’s important. They love, even when they aren’t loved in return. They take risks. I was especially impressed with the love and commitment the men in this book demonstrate. They don’t give up on their women who have issues. (There are men like this out there. Don’t give up on the male of the species, ladies.)
And they learn that some things are worth the pain.
So, lest you think I didn’t like this book, let me leave no doubt: TOTALLY WORTH IT.
In fact, I find myself a little sad right now because I finished the book so quickly and had to leave the town of Sweethaven for a couple of more months until the finale, A Sweethaven Christmas, releases.
I’ve heard said that great authors create a world readers don’t want to leave. Walsh has created a charming, inviting, homesick-inducing world with Sweethaven. I want to hug the ladies featured in the book and learn from them. (Am I weird?) I want to eat Adele’s food (she’s kinda like Paula Deen) and see Campbell’s photography and attend Jane’s Bible study and hear Meghan’s songs and drink Luke’s coffee. (Okay, so he’s not a lady, but he does figure into the plot.)
A hearty “well done, friend” to the author.
And to fellow readers, this is a series you don’t want to miss.