Home at Last
By Deborah Raney
The Chicory Inn #5
Abingdon Press, 2017
Why did their differences matter so much?
Link Whitman has settled into the role of bachelor without ever intending to. Now he's stuck in a dead-end job and, as the next Whitman wedding fast approaches, he is the last one standing. The pressure from his sisters' efforts to play matchmaker is getting hard to bear as Link pulls extra shifts at work, and helps his parents at the Chicory Inn.
All her life, Shayla Michaels has felt as if she straddled two worlds. Her mother's white family labeled her African American father with names Shayla didn't repeat in polite-well, in any company. Her father's family disapproved as well, though they eventually embraced Shayla as their own. After the death of her mother, and her brother Jerry's incarceration, life has left Shayla's father bitter, her niece, Portia, an orphan, and Shayla responsible for them all. She knows God loves them all, but why couldn't people accept each other for what was on the inside? For their hearts?
Everything changes one icy morning when a child runs into the street and Link nearly hits her with his pickup. Soon he is falling in love with the little girl's aunt, Shayla, the beautiful woman who runs Coffee's On, the bakery in Langhorne. Can Shayla and Link overcome society's view of their differences and find true love? Is there hope of changing the sometimes-ugly world around them into something better for them all?
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Deborah Raney brings the Chicory Inn series to a close with the compelling story of Link and Shayla in Home at Last. Deborah is a consummate author and I have greatly enjoyed each of the five books in this series. Each story involves one of the Whitman children and, while Home at Last can stand alone, I recommend reading the series in order.
The story is well written, capturing my attention from the first page, and I have particularly enjoyed how, throughout the series, Deborah deals with difficult life issues in a gentle manner that speaks volumes – such as infidelity, infertility, and dementia. And now, in Home at Last, she writes from the heart in exploring racism and biracial marriage. There is much to love and admire in the two main characters – Link’s good-heartedness and sense of innocence, and Shayla’s determination to do the right thing by her family, no matter how difficult.
Home at Last has a different feel from the previous four books, in that the subject matter is darker and seemed to overshadow character development. I didn’t get to know Link and Shayla as well as I would have liked, and never got a feel for how their caring for each other developed. However, the story’s strength is its cultural relevance and spiritual impact of unity in Christ, which makes it a very compelling read. This eye-opening, insightful story gave me a new awareness and much upon which to reflect, and it will stay with readers long after the last page is turned.
There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is
there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Deborah shared in an interview about the theme of this book … “We are all one in Christ, and therefore we are all brothers and sisters, and should love and care for one another as such. It’s a tall order, but I hope readers will be compelled to be more compassionate, more understanding, less judgmental, and more full of God’s grace toward each other—even when we disagree on some matters.”
The Whitman family – Grant, Audrey, and their extended family – have become friends as they worked through problems and shared in God’s grace. I appreciated the realism of the series and that nothing was sugar-coated when it comes to the difficulties Link and Shayla will face.
I was provided a free copy of this book through Litfuse Publicity. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.
Deborah Raney's novels have won numerous awards including the RITA, National Readers' Choice Award, HOLT Medallion, the Carol Award, and have three times been Christy Award finalists. She and her husband, Ken Raney have traded small-town life in Kansas-the setting of many of Deb's novels-for life in the city of Wichita.
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