Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sweet Sanctuary by Sheila Walsh & Cindy Colona

Wren is a single mom. She's been raising Charlie on her own since her husband abandoned them a few months after the birth. She has returned to her home town on the coast of Maine and is living in the cottage next to her family's larger home. The home is empty and has been for years. At her father's funeral there had been a family blow up. Wren has been estranged from mother and siblings since that day.
Her grandmother suddenly shows up on her doorstep, suggesting a birthday party in a few days. Grandma Ruth turns 90 and she wants her grandchildren all together again.
As Wren reluctantly begins to make plans, parts of her childhood come out. Her brother went missing when Wren was supposed to be watching him. Though eventually found, Wren was blamed – source of Wren's feelings of estrangement.
Add to the plot a fellow who gently begins to show interest in Wren. Bring in Wren's ex-husband who wants to get involved in Charlie's life, having been absent over a decade. And when Wren's brother and sister show up for the party (the mother refuses to come), personalities clash.
The action comes to a climax when Charlie goes missing during a heated family meeting. Wren begins to relive those hurtful experiences from her childhood.

There are problems with the plot line in this novel. There's lots of buildup with secrets and past hurts and when the events come to light, they seem rather unexciting.
The novel ends on a realistic note as all of the problems between the siblings are not ironed out. I can certainly see the possibility of a sequel.
There are lessons learned by characters in the novel, such as forgiveness. But it doesn't seem like the lessons carry all the way through to a final restoration. The hero of the novel, I think, is Charlie. He struggles with accepting a trouble causing friend, a friend who destroys his prize possession. Charlie is able to overcome that, however, and again accept his friend. He ends up coming through as a better representative of Christ than any of the adults.

Thomas Neslon, 352 pages.

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