I'll be honest: I wasn't a fan.
Plot: The book starts with the funeral of a local icon, Bink Carter. He's a long-time friend of the Wilson family and Livi is taking it particularly hard. From even the start, the book fell flat because I was constantly hoping/expecting the plot would take a different turn and it didn't. For example, I couldn't figure out why Livi was so heart broken over losing Bink -- even though it was a sudden death and he was a friend. I wasn't invested in the characters enough to really understand the relationship and thus my first instinct was that the author was foreshadowing some more deeper gossip (an affair, a secret past, etc.). But she wasn't, and that just disappointed me. As the plot moves, the reader learns that Livi lost her brother in Vietnam and is still in deep grief over that and Bink's death just brings it to the forefront again. The book takes place in the 1980s, but you'd think she'd lost her brother much more recently.
I liked the flashbacks that related Livi's childhood and told stories about her brother and his death. But I didn't like them enough to make up for the fact that I couldn't understand why this was such a big deal 20 years later.
I realize my above description makes me sound heartless and that I don't understand what grief is. I'd like to think I do and I'd like to think that I could've gotten behind the reasons for Livi's prolonged grief, but the way it was written felt contrived and I just didn't fully see it.
Characters: I liked the characters and the dialogue they shared. It's a very feminine novel and also the story of a small town, and I suppose I enjoyed that aspect of it. I just didn't connect with the characters enough, especially Livi, to understand or relate to her feelings of desperation and sadness.
This book is a Christian novel, so I understand the reasoning for the author's focus on grief and Livi's subsequent descent into alcoholism until she finds God. While I don't typically reach for Christian novels by choice, I've found the occasional novel that I do enjoy because of its sincerity and gentle application of Christian themes.
However, I also find that novels with Christian subject matter tread a fine line between offering a positive message without being "preachy". For me, the sincerity and "real-ness" of Livi's feelings were lost on me and the Christian themes became increasingly preachy, so it made it difficult to dig into the book with the level of interest I'd hoped for. 2 stars.
Disclaimer: I received a free electronic copy of this book, but my opinions are my own.