My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Elizabeth is the matriarch of a large family, a large, sprawling family, full of love, laughter, and faith. We have watched several of Elizabeth’s children find love, struggle with their faith, and go through both amazing tragedies and triumphs, but in this book it’s Elizabeth’s turn to go through one of the largest and most heart-wrenching trials of her life as she comes face to face with a deadly cancer diagnosis.
In the light of this diagnosis, as Elizabeth and John begin to reflect on their lives together, a secret from the past remains the one regret of their lives. This secret focuses on a secret firstborn child that Elizabeth and John were forced to give up for adoption. At the same time, we are introduced to a young man, Dayne, who is struggling to find purpose and meaning in his life.
However, where there is great sorrow and regret, there is also great joy. Ashley and Landon are finally getting married! Elizabeth is also planning a reunion so that all the Baxters can be together for the first time in a couple of years and so she can see and spend time with each child and grandchild before she experiences an eternal reunion with Jesus.
This is the fifth book of the original Baxter redemption series, and it is emotional and gut-wrenching. I cried about four times reading this book, so don’t read if you’re not prepared for a good cry. That’s my warning!! As with the last book, I thought I would share some thoughts about each of the major characters.
John and Elizabeth: Here is where all love stories end up on this side of heaven. To live is to die, and to love is one day have to say goodbye. Seeing the crushing emotional weight that they go through and their emotions of wanting to be together and yes needing to let go was excruciating to me. I felt such sorrow at the realization that they would be separate and that John would need to go on with his life for many years. It was painful to read, but beautifully written.
Ashley and Landon: Finally, all the obstacles to their marriage are gone and they are able to have their wedding before the end of the book. I am thankful that they are together and that there’s no more back and forth for them.
Erin and Sam: This really doesn’t have a lot of Sam, but they struggle to adopt, and finally end up with more blessings than they could imagine. There’s some pain to get there, but the end is joyous.
Dayne: He is the firstborn that Elizabeth and John never got to be with. He’s famous. He’s handsome. He doesn’t share their faith. He’s searching for them, for God, for meaning, and I think he’s going to have a wonderful journey in the next Baxter series. In the meantime, I enjoyed his introduction, and I loved how his conversation with Luke (and his glimpses of the pictures on Luke’s desk) leads him to a journey to find his birth mother. I’m looking forward to getting started with his series of books.
This is a wonderful book, and even though I found it really emotionally difficult, I am so glad that I read it, and that I reached the end of this first series of Baxter books!