There is no way to read this story and feel wishy-washy by the final page. Ms. Ganshert asks the hard questions and then she asks even harder ones! (Appropriate with that title, yes? :) She takes three very different characters and melds their stories, their questions, their fears, their doubts, and their hope together. I was wondering how it was going to work, knowing there would be multiple points of view, but I should have trusted. Especially knowing she has her own personal journey which likely brings these issues extra close home for her. Actually, it's that very knowing which intrigued me to pick this one up. There's just something about reading an author's work when you understand bits of the journey which brought it to life, isn't there? (Which is one reason why I love to read the Author's Notes at the end of the book. To discover those extra little details! :)
The quietly building tension kept me on the edge of my seat as the characters began entangling their journeys with one another, struggle by struggle. Nothing about any of the choices confronting each of them is easy and their constantly weaving pathways that circle around again and again seem like they would only drive them further apart, not together. And they did. At least at first. These ladies could not be any more different from one another. And yet? It takes each hard, rough interaction and uneasy conversation to bring them all to the place where they can finally confront their own darkness and shame and see out beyond it to the light. Once that happens? Oh friends, it's a powerful journey! And a necessary one. As Ms. Ganshert noted, a story such as this should prompt more conversation and a hard look at oneself and our own choices.
For all the dark that must be conquered here, it's the beautiful redemption and HOPE that weaves through every single paragraph which caught my heart. The harshness of the reality these characters (and we ourselves) must face every day is made gentler with Ms. Ganshert's wonderful writing. I can only imagine that such a story as this was not easy to create, but everything flows so well that it took a bit for me to leave Missouri behind once I had finished reading! These characters, their journeys, and the lessons to be learned are necessary and real. So be sure to read this one, friends! It's utterly unforgettable.
**I received a complimentary copy via Waterbrook & Multnoma. All opinions expressed are my own.
Enough was enough.
She pushed open her front door, let in the cacophony of sound, placed her hands on her hips, and glared with the full force of her disapproval, as if doing so could make all of them stop. But nobody did. Nobody noticed her at all. The tutu-wearing runners kept running. The volunteers continued tossing clouds of pink into the sky. The marching band kept marching farther away.
But then the minute hand changed from 4:22 to 4:23, and something happened nobody could possibly ignore. Something happened that had never happened in the town of Crystal Ridge before, at least not that Juanita Fine could remember. Something that had been brewing ever since that horrible town meeting last July.
A startling crack burst through the noise like a car backfiring. For a split second, in the infinitesimal span between the sound and the processing of it, Nita thought one had.
Until it happened again.
The crowd scattered. Onlookers trampled her cones. Tables upended. Bottles of pink cornstarch flattened underfoot like sandcastles at high tide. And through all the chaos, a blood-curdling, terrifying scream rose above the others.
One that went on and on.
Even after everyone was gone, and all that remained was yellow police tape and a bright crimson stain on her green grass, Juanita Fine could still hear it.