Swim


Title: Swim
Author: Jennifer Weiner
Publisher: Atria
Publication Date: May 8, 2012
ISBN: 9781451690323
Number of Pages: 48
How I Got It: Personal Collection

Goodreads Summary: 
The short story that inspired Jennifer Weiner’s forthcoming novel The Next Best Thing.Ruth has left her job writing for a hit television show for reasons she’d rather not discuss and is supplementing her increasingly dwindling savings with freelance writing projects—namely, helping anxious high school students craft a perfect college essay and lonely souls craft captivating online dating profiles. When she’s not working, she’s swimming—lap after lap at the local indoor pool, in a desperate attempt to wash away the sting of professional failure and heartbreak that she can’t seem to shake. It takes an unexpected client to show her that appearances can be deceiving, and that sometimes the bravest thing you can do is simply dive back in.
My Review:
This short e-novella jumps back and forth between a couple of timelines but isn't confusing. The jumps give insight into Ruth's surgery-laden youth, her work relationship that almost became something more, and her hope of success with a newly pitched television series. Since this is not essentially a stand alone piece, a summary and analysis are not exactly appropriate. As an introductory teaser to give a glimpse into the larger story it is successful. Most e-books allow you to read a first chapter but a release like this gives insight to the author's style as well as additonal depth that a first chapter may not supply. I personally like the concept and would be more likely to purchase a book after reading a free e-novella teaser. 

Someone Else's Love Story




Title: Someone Else's Love Story
Author: Joshilyn Jackson
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: November 19, 2013
ISBN:  9780062105653
Number of Pages: 352
How I Got It: Edelweiss

Summary (author's website): 
At twenty-one, Shandi Pierce is juggling finishing college, raising her delightful three-year-old genius son Natty, and keeping the peace between her eternally warring, long-divorced Catholic mother and Jewish father. She’s got enough complications without getting caught in the middle of a stick-up in a gas station mini-mart and falling in love with a great wall of a man named William Ashe, who willingly steps between the armed robber and her son.
Shandi doesn’t know that her blond god Thor has his own complications. When he looked down the barrel of that gun he believed it was destiny: It’s been one year to the day since a tragic act of physics shattered his universe. But William doesn’t define destiny the way other people do. A brilliant geneticist who believes in science and numbers, destiny to him is about choice.
Now, he and Shandi are about to meet their so-called destinies head on, in a funny, charming, and poignant novel about science and miracles, secrets and truths, faith and forgiveness,; about a virgin birth, a sacrifice, and a resurrection; about falling in love, and learning that things aren’t always what they seem—or what we hope they will be. It’s a novel about discovering what we want and ultimately finding what we need.

My Review: 
Joshilyn Jackson possesses an addictive storytelling style that will crack you up with a southern turn of phrase, rip your heart out, and then shock you with a climax so unexpected that you find your self flipping pages with your mouth hung open in shock. Readers find that when they get a taste of her stories, they quickly scramble to get their hands on everything she has written. Epitomizing modern Southern fiction (with a heavy dose of gothic,) Jackson turns tales of skeletons (real and metaphorical), and family feuds into layered pieces of art. She's spanned such topics as: racial discrimination (gods in Alabama,) domestic battery (Backseat Saints,) ghosts and mother's intuition (The Girl Who Stopped Swimming,) baby bones and a family secret (A Grown Up Kind of Pretty,) divided towns and a stolen baby (Between, Georgia.)  

Jackson delivers another knock-out novel filled with deception, family members with motives, and the mystery of an immaculate conception with Someone Else's Love Story. The stress of commuting between Lumpkin County and Georgia State is finally being lightened for Shandi. Her father and "Step-Refrigerator" have offered her their Atlanta condo so she can finish college and her three year old son, Natty, can be enrolled in a school that can cater to his high intelligence. Shandi, her best friend since childhood, Walcott, Natty, and all her belongings are south bound on their move into the city when they are detoured by a bout of carsickness. Pulling into a Circle K Walcott fills the tank while Shandi and Natty go inside for a ginger ale. What should be a simple stop changes everyone's life forever when the gas station is targeted for a hold up. 
"I fell in love with William Ashe at gunpoint, in a Circle K. It was a Friday afternoon at the tail end of a Georgia summer so ungodly hot the air felt like it had all been boiled red. We were both staring down the barrel of an ancient, creaky .32 that could kill us just as dead as a really nice gun could...That afternoon in the Circle K, I deserved to know, right off, that I had landed bang in the middle of a love story.  Especially since it wasn't--it isn't--it could never be my own."

William grieves for his lost wife and child in his own ways and just like Shandi has Walcott, he has Paula. As the title suggests, Someone Else's Love Story is full of complicated, twisted, and intertwined relationships that are not what they appear on the surface. Jackson's incomparable unbraiding and reweaving of a story results in another wonderful example of how she gives new definitons to home, love and family.
Be sure to grab a copy of Someone Else's Love Story when it releases on November 19th. 

***Jackson says that some characters hang around and have more to say after she finishes a novel. Just as one of her previous characters, Rose Mae Lolly carried over from gods in Alabama to Backseat Saints, a character from Someone Else's Love Story is the inspiration for Jackson's next novel.***

*** I received this novel in exchange for an honest review ***

Rain on Your Wedding Day

Title: Rain on Your Wedding Day
Author: Curtis Edmonds
Publisher: Scary Hippopotamus
Publication Date: 
ISBN: 9780988916333
Number of Pages: 278
How I Got It: Contacted by the author

Author Supplied Summary:
RAIN ON YOUR WEDDING DAY is the story of Will Morse, an ex-NFL player and Coca-Cola executive who experienced a traumatic breakdown after the dramatic suicide of his youngest daughter Trixie, an NCAA tennis champion. Will was accused of murder in Trixie's death, but was able to clear himself of the charges. The ensuing scandal cost him his marriage, his job, and his relationship with his daughter Alicia, his only surviving child.As the novel opens, Alicia makes a surprise visit to Will's remote cabin in the Georgia mountains to announce that she is getting married. Will wants to rekindle his relationship with her daughter, especially once he learns that she is pregnant. However, Will fears that attending the wedding will bring up painful memories from his past, and lead to conflict with his ex-wife and her family, who still blame him for Trixie's death.
Will develops a relationship with Dot Crawford, a literature professor, who makes a chance visit to his cabin. The relationship flowers into a romantic friendship, and Will begins to open up to Dot about his tragic past. But Will soon learns that Dot is not all that she appears, and that she is working on a book about his daughter and her death.
On the eve of Alicia's wedding, Will must confront the guilt and shame that he feels, and seek forgiveness for his actions that put Trixie in danger, and decide whether to reach out to Dot and forgive her for her betrayal.
My Review:
I rarely find a male author who possesses a writing style I enjoy. I have had male authors request that I review their work and either their work doesn't fit my review criteria or they are trying to write in a female voice and the results are painful. So when I first saw the title/author combo of  "Rain on Your Wedding Day" and "Curtis Edmonds" in a review request, I was initially skeptical. Reading further into the query, I found Edmonds writing humorous and likeable, making me less apprehensive. Upon reaching the summary I was sold on the story. I'm pretty sure that "a modern Southern Gothic novel (set in Blue Ridge, Georgia and Atlanta) about the need for forgiveness, redemption, and Coca-Cola" describes a perfect example of the type of book I love.

The story opens with Will receiving a visit from his daughter at his mountain cabin. An invitation to her upcoming wedding breaks the monotony of his daily life of seclusion. His preparations for the event shakes up his routine and when tragedy strikes his family again, he is forced to discuss the questions surrounding his daughter's death. While the story spans a short amount of time, hermit-like Will faces dating, going to a social event, and the stairs. His bad knees have prevented him from trekking upstairs too often, allowing him to ignore his daughters' rooms, a perfect metaphor for what he has closed off and refuses to acknowledge. The dark subject matters are uncovered in bite-sized pieces, just the same as how Will deals with it all.

This novel should be considered by publishers for future release under their label due to Edmonds' well rounded characters and perfect timing. I believe this is the best self-published book I have read this year.

*** I received this book in exchange for an honest review ***


Thursday Morning Breakfast (and Murder) Club



Title: The Thursday Morning Breakfast (and Murder) Club
Author: Liz Stauffer
Publisher:Sartoris Literary Group 
Publication Date: July 2, 2013
ASIN: B00DRN5EJ4
Number of Pages: 246
How I Got It: From the Author

Goodreads Summary: 
When Clare Ballard sports a new bruise on her right cheek the day after a contentious town meeting, the ladies of the Thursday Morning Breakfast Club suspect her husband Roger of abusing her. That same day Hester Franklin, another breakfast club lady, is called to rescue her grandson Patrick after he is arrested for transporting drugs. Proclaiming his innocence, Patrick threatens that those who set him up will pay. Roger Ballard is high on his list.

But it's when Lillie Mae Harris, the club's leader, discovers the body of the local drug dealer on the nearby hiking trail, that the community is upended. Roger Ballard, the primary suspect, goes missing, and when his body turns up in his own back yard, Clare Ballard confesses to his murder. No one believes she did it, but Clare insists she's guilty and mysteriously refuses to talk to her lawyer, the police, or her family and friends.

The Thursday Morning Breakfast Club ladies believe she's protecting someone, and they vow to find out who it is. Charlie Warren, the town's homegrown policeman, using unconventional means, collaborates with the breakfast club ladies to draw out the real criminal. But danger lurks.
Alice Portman, the matriarch of the breakfast club, is struck down in her own yard and is sent to the hospital. Then others in the small community start to disappear — one after the other. As the ladies get closer to the truth, they get closer to the danger. With no time to cry over spilled coffee, they form a plan to capture the true culprits before someone else is murdered.

My Review:
The quaint Appalachian town of Mount Penn is having some not so charming occurences. Drugs, dead bodies, and dirty police cause local busy body Lillie Mae Harris to channel her inner Angela Lansbury and get to the bottom of the crimes. Her sounding board and support system are her Thursday morning breakfast ladies. The close knit group of friends keep each other abreast of all the activities in the community. Or do they? What secrets do some of Lillie Mae's closest friends keep? 
Author Liz Stauffer transports readers to a small town with big problems. She gives us an unconventional amatuer detective with Lillie Mae and shows readers the dark secrets that even the most perfect small towns can hold. If I had to choose something I didn't like about the novel, I would say that I think an aggressive editor could have helped the author tighten up some of the prose. The repetition of names and phrases was a bit distracting but Stauffer still delivered a wonderful, quick reading, cozy mystery to cuddle up with as the weather is turning colder. 

*** I received this book in exchange for an honest review ***

Mad Max: Unintended Consequences




Title: Mad Max: Unintended Consequences
Author: Betsy Ashton
Publisher: Koehler
Publication Date: March 1,2013
ISBN: 9781938467400
Pages: 274
How I Got It: Direct From Author

Summary (via author webpage) 
Maxine "Mad Max" Davies is a wealthy widow living in New York City when she learns her only daughter Merry is badly injured in an automobile accident. She immediately returns to Richmond, Virginia, where she grew up, to take care of her daughter and two grandchildren. 
On the surface she is sophisticated, polished and in control of all situations. Estranged years earlier from her daughter Merry, she wants to reach out and heal the rift. She doesn't know how.
At first, she doesn't realize how badly injured her daughter is. The healing process takes weeks and results in a diagnosis of traumatic brain injury. Merry's personality changes. When it becomes clear Merry will never return to the way she was before the accident, Mad Max has few options. 
For most of her adult life, Mad Max lives by a simple mantra:  "I'm through raising children and I'm never living in the South again." Merry's long-term prognosis and the needs of her two grandchildren throw the mantra into the trash.
Mad Max alternates between anger at the situation in which she finds herself and acting silly to keep her grandchildren's spirits up. 
Her best friend tells her she may not have gotten everything right when she raised Merry, but life gives her a "doo-wop" with her grandchildren. Mad Max chooses not to blow it this time.

My review (contains spoilers) :
Max gets the phone call that every parent dreads--you're daughter's been in an accident. Rushing to her daughter Merry's side and to support her, her husband and her children, Max leaves her life in New York City behind. What she believes will be a short stay becomes extended when her daughter's recovery doesn't go as planned. Merry is eventually allowed to go home but she is "different." Max stays on to help to family, but as the days pass, Max recognizes that something is terribly wrong with her daughter. Merry is withdrawn, taking multiple medications, drinking, and becoming obsessed with plastic surgery. Behind her downward spiral is a doctor with a motive. Under his (psychologically creepy) spell, Merry changes more dramatically in behavior and physical appearance.  Mary's husband Whip hides in his work, leaving the children in Max's care until Max confronts him, pointing out that she will not be able to stay forver and that he needs to see what is really happening to his family. Finally reaching a breaking point when reviewing their destroyed finances,Whip demands a divorce, causing Merry and her doctor to act even more irrationally. 

I agreed to review this book after I read the summary and saw the cover. I was intrigued with the juxtaposition of the debutante and the gun and how these played into the story.  What I originally thought was going to be a story of an estranged mother being given a second chance and reconnecting with her daughter turned out to be a fabulously twisted novel. Betsy Ashton's ability to shock kept me from putting this book down. I gasped while I read. I gritted my teeth. I wanted to kick Whip to get his head out of his ass and I thought how guilty and torn Max must feel. Family obligation and love for her grandchildren keep her involved but who wouldn't want to just say to Whip "this is your wife, your family, your mess, you fix it"? The story read like I was watching a really good soap opera. Every turn of the story was shocking but believable, a tough task for a writer to pull off. 

If I had to pick one thing that I didn't like about the book I would choose the daughter, Em's, psychic connections. While fascinating and a great way to tie into Merry's otherwise unknown whereabouts, it felt awkward to put a "superatural" element into such a serious drama. 

***  I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review ***

The People in the Trees


Title: The People in the Trees
Author: Hanya Yanagihara
Publisher: Doubleday
Publication Date: August 13,2013
ISBN: 9790385536776
Pages: 384
How I Got It: NetGalley

Goodreads Summary: In 1950, a young doctor called Norton Perina signs on with the anthropologist Paul Tallent for an expedition to the remote Micronesian island of Ivu'ivu in search of a rumored lost tribe. They succeed, finding not only that tribe but also a group of forest dwellers they dub "The Dreamers," who turn out to be fantastically long-lived but progressively more senile. Perina suspects the source of their longevity is a hard-to-find turtle; unable to resist the possibility of eternal life, he kills one and smuggles some meat back to the States. He scientifically proves his thesis, earning worldwide fame and the Nobel Prize, but he soon discovers that its miraculous property comes at a terrible price. As things quickly spiral out of his control, his own demons take hold, with devastating personal consequences.

My Review: (Contains spoilers) I've been sitting on this review for quite a while. Like 2 months. I needed to really ponder it before I wrote a review. Then I got myself so worked up that I couldn't write a review that would do it justice that I sat it to the side again. But I can't let it go without writing something. So while I don't believe I can touch on everything I felt in this book in a few paragraphs, I'm going to give it my best shot. 

Hanya Yanagihara's descriptions of Norton Perina's journey to an isolated island mirrors Barbara Kingsolver's description of the Price family's journey to the Congo. Both authors transport you to a lush and uncharted world with mystery and danger around every turn. Perina learns of an island rumored to be inhabited by people living many decades longer than the average human due to eating a particular type of turtle.  He journeys to this island with two fellow scientists (a male, which pleases him and a female, which does not.) As his journey begins, memories of Norton's childhood and interest in becoming a scientist unfold. Upon arrival on the island, they learn of strange fruits and the separation of the villagers from the Dreamers. When tribe members reach the age of sixty they are allowed to eat some of the sacred turtle meat and their lives are extended. However, they are turned away from the settlement and are sent to live in the wilds of the island. The customs of the tribe are viewed and recorded by the scientists. While these rituals are shocking to the reader, it raises the topic of post-colonialism and the conversion of multitudes throughout history to "acceptable" behaviors. 

After smuggling a sacred turtle back to his lab for study, Perina is unable to duplicate the results or control the outcome. His experiments open up the topic of animal experimentation and due to his bringing some of The Dreamers back with him, the line between human and animal. The story continues into a strange, third part of the novel with Perina adopting dozens of children from the island and the chaos that ensues. Not only the physical tornado of that many people living in a single household but the relationships between Perina and the children as well as the relationships between the children themselves. These relationships are hinted at in the beginning of the novel by the narrator (who supplies footnotes throughout the story and is a topic unto himself.)

When the sacred turtles are hunted to extinction, the studies reach a dead end but the reader's imagination wanders. If a rare Amazonian flower cures cancer, who gets the flower?  How do scientists keep their experiments under wraps to prevent others from harvesting the flower to extinction? How many "cures" lie in a remote location? On and on the theoretical debate can go and then you can wonder how much is really going on right now that the average person has no idea about? You will find your imagination running away on such a variety of topics as you read this novel. 

This novel touches on so many larger topics that I can see it being a high school or college classroom assigned reading. Almost every page could be dissected and discussed at length. It would have fit right into my post-colonial literature syllabus in college.  As a matter of fact, this novel could be a course within itself. 

The Girl You Left Behind


Title: The Girl You Left Behind
Author: JoJo Moyes
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books / Viking
Publication Date: August 20,2013
ISBN: 9780670026616
Pages: 369
How I Got It: She Reads Book Club October Selection

Publicist Supplied Summary:
In the small French town of St. Peronne, Sophie Lefevre is struggling under the German occupation. It is 1916, and with her husband (and most other men) fighting at the front, she is barely keeping the famiy restaurant--Le Coq Rouge--afloat under the strict and unforgiving rationing. To combat the pain of a starving belly and despite the fact that it draws unwanted attention to her family, Sophie defiantly keeps the portrait her artist husband painted of her up on the wall. Seeing it transports her back to their lives in Paris--full of good food and joie de vivre. When the painting catches the eye of the new Kommandant, Sophie becomes the object of his obsession. As he spends more time at Le Coq Rouge, Sophie is drawn in to a dangerous bargain with the German officer as she tries to protect those she loves the most. 
Almost a century later, Liv Halston is living under the shadow of her young husband's sudden death and a growing debt. She lives in the gorgeous flat he designed for them, but her lack of a steady job means she can no longer afford to keep the show place that should have been her home forever. Her prized possession, given to her by her husband as a wedding present, is the same portrait that hung on Sophie's wall in 1916. Enter Paul McCaffery; when Liv meets him during a chance encounter, she starts to feel like life may have something in store for her yet. But Paul's work lies in the restitution of art lost and the spoils of war. In a cruel twist, his next case: the portrait of Sophie that Liv loves most in all the world. For Liv, her belief in what is right will be put to the ultimate test. 

My Review: (Contains Spoilers)
I would like to say I was equally involved in each storyline but, in fact, I was more interested in Sophie's. I usually steer clear of German occupation stories and war stories in general. I respect the stories that are written to illuminate these topics but I usually can't handle them as a personal reading choice. However, Jojo Moyes created a novel with the perfect combination of hope and despair. This wonderfully complex story is a reminder of a dark chapter in history that obliterated masses of stories. 
I feel in love with Sophie at the end of the first chapter and became so involved in her storyline that I was quite shaken when the story shifted to present day Liv. I was awed by Sophie's spunk, work ethic, and her relationship with Eduord. I was humbled by her bravery and "chin up" spirit while she served the Germans. I respected her attempts to establish a human connection with her captors. I didn't judge her when she made her deal with the Kommandant. By the halfway point of the novel, I was so involved in Sophie's storyline that I didn't know if I could continue reading for fear of the outcome. 
Liv on the other hand annoyed me a bit. I wanted to just shake her and say "snap out of it" with the wallowing depression. She lit up a bit a few times but not enough for me to really cheer for her. Paul's roles as ex-cop, father, and brother give him much more dimension than Liv's defeated victim role. 
But as far as favorite characters go, I loved a secondary character in this book so much that they may have even surpassed my love of Sophie. Marianne Andrews steals every scene she is in. She slips and gives the hint to Liv about Paul's procuring of evidence for Liv's side in the court battle. Her defense of her mother's journalism work, her dismissal of her multiple marriages and her sense of humor (It's not a recipe for prawn gumbo) overshadow Liv and Paul in the present day timeline. 
I went into this novel expecting Elie Wiesel's Night but I would compare The Girl You Left Behind to  The Guernsey Literary and Potato Pie Peel Society. JoJo Moyes focuses on love and sacrifice but doesn't sugar coat the horrors of war. Personifying the occupation and bringing to light looted art, true ownership and reparations, The Girl You Left Behind would be a wonderful book for classroom discussion and book clubs. 

Hush Little Baby


Title: Hush Little Baby
Author: Suzanne Redfearn
Publisher: Hachette
Publication Date: October 8, 2013
ISBN:9781455573202
Pages: 368
How I Got it: via Suzy Q (@SuzyQZ416) and Marissa Sangiacomo at Hatchette Books

Goodreads Summary:


If I stay, he will kill me. If I leave, he'll destroy Addie and Drew. Jillian Kane appears to have it all - a successful career, a gorgeous home, a loving husband, and two wonderful children. The reality behind closed doors is something else entirely. For nine years, she has hid the bruises and the truth of her abusive marriage in order to protect Addie and Drew, knowing, if she left, Gordon would destroy her-destroy them.When, in an act of desperation, she flees, her worst nightmare is realized, and she finds herself on the run with her two young children, no money, and no plan. With Gordon in hot pursuit, there is only one inescapable certainty: No matter where she goes, he will find her. Kill her. And take her children.A riveting page-turner, HUSH LITTLE BABY exposes the shame and terror of domestic violence as well as the disturbing role manipulation and sabotage can play in the high-stakes game of child custody. Suspenseful and unforgettably moving, it's a novel about the unbreakable bonds of family and the astounding, terrifying devotion of a mother's love.


My Review:

     I have never read such a heart-pounding, stomach-wrenching, nail-biting, edge of my seat, can't put down thriller! I had to force myself to slow down because I was tripping over every word to get to the next.
     Just like the husbands we see in Sleeping with the Enemy or Enough, Gordon is a powerful man who is viewed as a pillar of the community.  His expectation of perfection manipulates every situation to his advantage while putting up a perfect facade. His wife, Jillian,  believes she can control his rage by being perfect, but as a working mother, things fall through the cracks. A forgotten lunch, a missed pick-up, a child's public tantrum are all chalked up to a bad day for a regular working mom. But Gordon's keeping a list, retaliating, and leaving no loose ends. The fact that he is a cop lends an extra layer of protection to his cruelty. He has created a perfect image of himself and a very tarnished image of his wife.  His abuse knows no bounds whether they be physcial, emotional, financial, or reproductive.
     Society often blames the victim, asking "Well, why doesn't she just leave?" She can't leave because she is painted into a corner. When well meaning outsiders exclaim "But, there is always a way out" rarely do they know of the full set of circumstances surrounding the situation.  It is impossible to make that statement if you have not been in the situation yourself. While Redfearn's novel is fiction, Jillian is walking around right under our noses every day. She's a friend or someone in your family. Sometimes her struggles come to light and she is able to change her environment, but often times when these situations come to light it is with a tragic ending.
     I feel it is important to disclose that this work contains detailed accounts of abuse that may be a trigger for those with close or personal accounts of abuse.  That being said, I also believe that not only was this an amazing novel but it also illuminates the unfortunate situations that many women face every single day.  How you would fare if you were in Jillian's shoes?

**I received this novel in exchange for an honest review**

Grounded



Title: Grounded
Author: Angela Correll
Publisher: Koehler
Publication Date:  October 1, 2013
ISBN: 9781938467561
Pages: 262
How I Got It: contacted by publicist

Back Cover:
New York City flight attendant Annie Taylor is grounded, putting a halt to her weekends in Rome and jet-setting lifestyle.  Soon her boyfriend's true natrue is revealed, and to make matters worse, she loses her apartment. In the midst of her crashing life, Annie leaves the city for the family farm in Kentucky, a place she's avoided for years. She finds a shotgun-wielding grandmother, a farm in disrepair, and a suspicious stranger renting the old stone house.
The country quiet haunts Annie with reminders of a past that can't be changed.  She tries persuading her ailing grandmother to sell the farm, but is met with stubborn refusal.  Childhood friend Jake Wilder is contemplating a leap off the corporate ladder to follow his passion for sustainable farming. Nearly ready to propose to Camille, a girl who wants more, not less, Annie believes Jake is making a terrible mistake. After all these years, does she have the right to tell him?
As the summer heats up, so do Annie's unexpected feelings for Jake and her love for the land. She sees a glimmer of hope for a second chance. But just as she is finding common ground with her grandmother, a phone call from New York forces her to chose between the past and the future. 

My Review:

Too often the word "simple" is used in a negative context. In today's hustle and bustle world the line between consumerism and over-consumption is constantly challenged. But every trend has a tipping point and we now see a rise in sustainable agriculture (how things were done for years prior to demands of spot free apples and overplump chicken breasts.) We see an uptick in organic farming versus GMOs and mass production of inferior crops and animals. Angela Correll incorporates this "new" trend into her her novel by demonstrating that these practices are how family farms were run for generations. She juxtaposes Jake's passion of returning to "simple" agricultural practices with Annie's desire to travel the world working as a flight attendant based in New York. 

While the storyline appears basic (maybe even scary and depressing?) --Girl moves home after break-up and job loss to settle into life on family farm, Correll hits the mark by exemplifying Annie's resistance. Annie's growing comfort and gradual ease into daily farm life parallels the the return of "simple" and sustainable farming. Changes are slow and sometimes not initially understood. But once one becomes open to possibilities, great things can happen. And some of the greatest things are the simple things.