Abby Wells has a hole in her soul. Now that her mom has died and she has lost her job, Abby thinks maybe leaving Ohio and going back to Georgia and searching out the mystery in her ancestry might help fill the void. Her Aunt Ruby is welcoming but is mute when it comes to secrets seventy years old. Abby accepts her aunt's offer to live in the family's old, and supposedly haunted, house. She meets the unassuming Will, Ruby's handyman and sort of all around caretaker. He has a past he keeps hidden too.
Abby is able to uncover hints to a tragedy long ago that might be the key to the family's secret past. In the process she meets an angry uncle with a chip on his shoulder. She find out there is much more to the mystery of her absent father than she could have ever imagined.
This is a novel for people interested in genealogical research. Hitting a wall with her aunt's silence, Abby must find other sources to unlock the mystery of her past. It was interesting to read about the various ways she went about her investigation.
In general, I found the novel a little confusing to read. There were allusions to many past events in the ruminations of characters, such as Aunt Ruby, that left me a little unsure of what was actually to be communicated to the reader. It may have been my Pacific Northwest Yankee brain trying to get around southern thinking and speaking.
I found Abby to be somewhat of a hard person to like. She was a troubled young woman and frequently acted out of her own selfish insecurity. She treated past and potential boyfriends horribly. She was also compulsive, acting on the spur of the moment resulting in getting herself in trouble. Abby made an about face at the end of the novel that seemed a bit out of character to me. Aunt Ruby was also a hard character for me to like. She was bent on keeping an event from her past secret. When Abby finally discovered the truth, I did not understand why Ruby tried so hard to keep it a secret. Ruby's intensity seemed too much for what was being hidden.
I felt the male characters had the most personality. That Uncle Blake was a mean fellow. He reminded me of a southern man at his worst. That character was well developed. I really liked Greg. He was a man who wanted the best for Abby, even if he went about it in a bumbling manner. I found it interesting that it was he who unlocked the key to Abby unlocking the relationship to her dad.
Readers who like a slower paced novel may like this one. There was a little excitement near the end, otherwise the novel moves along rather slowly. There is a little in it about the possibility of ghosts and a haunted house and some may like that. There is a good lesson for readers, that Jesus is the only One who can fill that hole in a person's soul.
Brandy Heineman writes dual time fame novels from a Christian worldview. Whispers in the Branches was a Genesis finalist. She is an alumna of Wesleyan College. She and her husband live in metro Atlanta. You can find out more at http://brandyheineman.com.
Elk Lake Publishing, 292 pages.
I received a complimentary egalley of this book through the Book Club Network for the purpose of an independent and honest review.