My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Dayne and Katy Matthews are under intense pressure from their careers and from the press. Now, they’re going to be separated from each other for ten weeks, and rumors of infidelity are swirling as the tabloids look for the slightest sense of trouble in their marriage. Will their marriage survive?
The Flanigan family feels a deep loss as the children try to navigate their high school lives without CKT. They also have seen the detrimental effects of not having the CKT program in their friends’ lives. Will they be able to pull together? Will CKT come back to their hometown? Will their friends continue down the wrong paths that they set out on?
John is considering marriage. He wants to marry Elaine, but has difficulty letting go of his house and his life with Elizabeth. Will he continue on with Elaine or retreat to his memories of Elizabeth?
Someday is a good theme for this book. Someday Katy and Dayne will have a normal life. Someday John will be able to move on from his past and ask Elaine to be his wife. Someday Ashley will heal from the death of little Sarah. Someday all this will happen. However, much of the book is spent waiting and in pain.
Having said that, this is a book I really enjoyed. It’s a book that has a lot of turmoil and pain, but it is also a book that had a strong message for me. I was reminded that life is only as fun as I make it, and that I can choose to find joy in every day of my life and of all of my circumstances. I can choose how to respond to life and to the people in it, and I can choose grace, forgiveness and love. Several of the characters in this book need to make these kind of choices, and it’s interesting to see them play out in different ways.
Here are my thoughts on the major point of view characters. There may be some spoilers included, so read on at your own risk.
John: He’s thinking about marrying Elaine. In fact, he thinks this is the right move and even buys an engagement ring. However, he finds as he makes plans to build a life with Elaine, that he is having difficulty putting aside the pain and pushing on to the future with Elaine. He’s not even sure if building a future with her is the right thing to do. I get it. I do get it. I love that he finally realizes by the end that he has room in his heart for both his memories of Elizabeth and his new life with Elaine.
Dayne: He’s trying to walk the straight and narrow and stay away from even the hint of impropriety in the 10 long weeks that he’s away from Katy. However, a picture implicates him in having an affair with his co-star, and even though it is not him in the picture, no one believes him, including Katy. He spends much of the rest of the book attempting to overcome this crisis and to show his wife how true his devotion is to her and to their marriage. He receives some help from his friend Bob, and after spending time with him (and reading through some letters that Elizabeth wrote), he comes through big time in the husbands trying to fix their marriage department. It’s truly a beautiful thing.
Ashley: She’s healing and mourning the loss of her baby. She’s trying to find the good that Sarah’s short life caused. There are so many miracles happening with her relationship with Brooke, her acceptance of Elaine, and with the new pregnancy center that she’s helping to establish in Sarah’s name. Yet, there are still miracles that she’s hoping for, and some healing to come. Her story is very poignant in this part of the series, and I’ve enjoyed seeing her develop as a character in recent books.
Katy: She’s back to annoying me. In this book, Katy chooses to spend time doing her own thing, instead of being a good and supportive wife. She goes off to make her own movie, spending ten weeks in London. She gets completely disconnected from Dayne, believes the worst about him from the tabloids, and nearly decides that the right thing to do was to end her marriage. I found myself really frustrated with her.
Jenny: She is a friend and confidant of Bailey’s teenage drama. She’s a supportive wife and is busy raising her own children. There are two places in the book where she really shines. First, she reminds Katy that the distance and strain in her and Dayne’s marriage is self-inflicted. She caused her own troubles. Second, after hearing about Bailey’s friend’s abortion, she is burdened with the need to re-open the pregnancy crisis center. This leads to a beautiful story arc for Brooke, and I’m really enjoying.
Brooke: Brooke repents of her sins in regarding life so lightly. She repents of her sins in recommending abortion for patients and becomes highly involved in opening a pregnancy crisis center in town. Even better, we see some really tender scenes of her with some of her young patients. She really shines in these scenes.
Randi: Sometimes it’s good to get inside the head of an antagonist. It’s delightful to see here some of the motivations of rebellion and of not feeling loved that led Randi into being the person that she is. We also get to see her repent of her ways and ask God for forgiveness of her sins. We see through her that Jesus completely changes all that he touches.
Reagan: Her children are quite the handful. She’s lonely in her marriage and feels unloved. She finds herself growing closer to a fireman and allowing herself to separate from her husband. Her husband soon ends the separation by coming home, and she learns that he has truly been unfaithful to her. Things are not happily ever after, and their marriage is still a mess. However, for now they are back together.
Luke: He’s unhappy in his marriage. He attempts to escape it by long work trips and flirtations with other women. He finds himself making out with Dayne’s costar and allowing Dayne to take the fall when the photos are published in the tabloids. He doesn’t feel much guilt about the whole thing until he reads some letters that his mother wrote. He feels crushed with guilt and pain and returns home to attempt to make things work with his wife. We don’t know if they will work, but they are currently together, and for now, it’s enough.
Bailey: She’s pained by a friend’s abortion. She misses Cody. She has other boys on her mind, including Tim Reed. She misses CKT and prays that it will come back to town. In other words, she’s a complete mess and I roll my eyes at her teenage drama.
Cody: He misses the Flanigans, especially Bailey. He’s adjusting to life in the army, and he has a near brush with death. He realizes that God is looking out for him. His portion of this book is small, but sweet and good.
Kari: She’s still an emotional center in this family as she hosts her sisters for dinners and builds relationships with each of them. She’s incredibly sweet as she flits through the book, just holding one or two perspective scenes.
Landon: He compliments Ashley’s craziness so well. His perspective scenes are sweet, showing him at work and with his father-in-law. He’s a true rock and a husband any woman would love to have.
All in all, I loved this book and was very excited about it. Looking forward to reading future entries in this series!