Author: Debbie Macomber
Overview from Barnes and Noble:
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A seaside town helps one young woman reclaim the light after darkness in an uplifting novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Debbie Macomber.
Annie Marlow has been through the worst. Rocked by tragedy, she heads to the one place that makes her happy: Oceanside in the Pacific Northwest, the destination of many family vacations when Annie was a teenager.
Once there, Annie begins to restore her broken spirit, thanks in part to the folks she meets: a local painter, Keaton, whose large frame is equal to his big heart—and who helps Annie fix up her rental cottage by the sea; Mellie, the reclusive, prickly landlord Annie is determined to befriend; and Britt, a teenager with a terrible secret. But it is Keaton to whom Annie feels most drawn. His quiet, peaceful nature offers her both comfort and reprieve from her grief, and the two begin to grow closer.
Then events threaten to undo the idyll Annie has come to enjoy. And when the opportunity of a lifetime lands in her lap, she is torn between the excitement of a new journey toward success and the safe and secure arms of the haven—and the man—she’s come to call home.
In this heartwarming tale, Annie finds that the surest way to fix what is damaged within is to help others rise above their pain and find a way to heal.
I have no idea how I’ve never read a Debbie Macomber novel until now! This was my first novel by this author and if any of her other books are similar to this one, then she has a lifelong fan in me.
Our main character Annie experiences a horrific tragedy that leaves her completely broken. After some advice from a friend, she decides to try and move forward in her life by returning to a place filled with happy memories. She packs her bags and moves from California to the Pacific Northwest to live in the cottage by the sea that her family used to rent. Of course, this is met with obstacles as Mellie (the cottage’s owner) originally does not want to rent the place to Annie (or anyone). Through her newly formed friendship with Keaton, a local painter (who also happens to be a larger build), Annie is able to rent the cottage and start her new life.
This novel wavers between realism and fantasy as Annie has flaws and emotions that make her relatable, but at the same time she is good at everything and she can make people like her almost in an instant. It was hard to understand how she could be all over the place with her personality one minute and very stoic the next. It could just be how I read her in each chapter, but it was hard to relate to some of her attributes as a character where you’re rooting for her. Each character seems to have this same issue, so it’s not limited to the main protagonist. Despite their character flaws, I found myself satisfied with how everything turned out for Annie in the end and how the other story-lines were wrapped up for the other characters.
Although it might not be a popular opinion as many other reviewers have preferred Annie, I personally preferred Keaton. He has been struggling since childhood when his father blamed him for his mother leaving them. He also has a larger build than everyone around him and has therefore been an outcast almost his whole life. People in town like him enough, but he’s shut himself off from getting to close to people for fear of rejection. His loneliness and fear was very relatable and I loved how over the course of the book, he slowly opened himself up little by little. Like any human trying to better them, he falters sometimes, but he tries to learn from it and move forward. He had such a lonely and loveless childhood and no one deserves to grow up like that.
Mellie is a hard sell as a likable character, but the one thing I absolutely love is her willingness to help animals. (Although, it is amazing how many there are to help in such a tiny town.) She has her own set of struggles, just like every character, but hers was the hardest to get behind. By the end, I still didn’t really care for her as a character and she was just there compared to other novels that I’ve read where I’ve been invested in how their stories turn out. Honestly, I can’t even put my finger on the reasons why, but I just know that she just wasn’t the character for me.
The novel has many themes that it touches on, such as, family, grief, friendship, and belonging that it does a great job balancing. The writing itself gives just enough background into why each character is at a certain place in their life when they meet each other and how they slowly learn and grow as individuals. Debbie Macomber’s writing has a great flow as you seamlessly move from one page to the next with just enough description of the surroundings to easily feel like you’re there experiencing the story.
Despite my few dislikes, I am very curious to read more of the author’s novels (she has tons of them so my odds of finding the perfect one are pretty good)! Overall, this novel has its drawbacks, but there is no denying that it is notable. It follows through on it’s promise to be a heart-warming tale and I will definitely be adding more books by this author on my to-read list!