Must begin with apologies to Linda Chadwick, who kindly gave me a copy of her book, Second Chances, to review two MONTHS ago. Unfortunately, between NaNoWriMo and the holidays, life sort of pounded me into the ground and I'm just now beginning to resurface. So thank you, Linda, for your patience!
He slowly sat down in the porch swing. Even though it was not raining, he thought he could hear the rain falling softly from a darkened sky. He imagined Barbara sitting beside him, a sweet smile on her beautiful face and her silky brown hair blowing in the breeze.Suddenly, the front door opened, and a small, elderly woman stepped out onto the porch.
"Can I help you?" she asked abruptly. Embarrassed, Larry jumped out of the swing. "I . . . I used to live in this house . . . I was . . . reminiscing . . ." he tried to explain. He quickly came to his senses. "I'm sorry to have bothered you. I'll be going now."
Still grieving over the loss of his wife, forty-one-year-old Larry Porter is facing challenges that no father should ever have to face. Almost overnight he becomes both father and mother to his three children, and they aren't having anything to do with him. A former workaholic, he now regrets being an absentee parent, but doesn't know how to make amends. Soon, Larry comes to understand that his children are more important to him than anything else. He must change the path they are on or lose them forever.
This tender and thought-provoking story will bring you face-to-face with the realities of losing a loved one. It will touch your heart, lift your spirit, and inspire you to tackle your own challenges with determination and hope.
Linda does a great job with characterization. It was easy for me to picture Larry and his children, and to sympathize fully with the different sense of loss that each feels for their newly deceased wife and mother. I found it very interesting to see how each character dealt with that loss in different ways. Although Barbara had already passed on when the book begins, she is an important character with a solid presence throughout the story, if only in the memories of her family. I thought that it was fascinating to see how Larry develops from a workaholic father who knew very little about his children to the glue that holds the family together. He struggles with a crisis of faith and kids who have a difficult time putting their trust in him and manages to persevere through hard times. Things definitely get worse before they get better, so be prepared for a rough ride-- the second half of the novel deals primarily with Chris, the son who suffers a brutal attack and becomes inadvertantly addicted to prescription pain medication.
I don't want to give away too much of the story, but by the end of the book, you can see the light at the end of the tunnel as the family begin to rediscover their faith and love for each other. I read an interview that Linda gave where she said that her next novel is a humorous romance, and I'm excited to see how she deals with the lighter side of life.