Shades of Morning: A Novelby Marlo Schalesky
Mistakes maybe. Accidents. And monstrous mess-ups. She knew a lot about those.
But miracles? Those were for other people.
Marnie Wittier has life just where she wants it. Quiet. Peaceful. No drama. A long way away from her past. In the privacy of her home, she fills a box with slips of/b>
Marnie didn’t know much about miracles.
Mistakes maybe. Accidents. And monstrous mess-ups. She knew a lot about those.
But miracles? Those were for other people.
Marnie Wittier has life just where she wants it. Quiet. Peaceful. No drama. A long way away from her past. In the privacy of her home, she fills a box with slips of paper, scribbled with her regrets, sins, and sorrows. But that’s nobody else’s business. Her bookstore/coffee shop patrons, her employees, her friends from church—they all think she’s the very model of compassion and kindness.
Then Marnie’s past creeps into her present when her estranged sister dies and makes Marnie guardian of her fifteen-year-old son—a boy Marnie never knew existed. And when Emmit arrives, she discovers he has Down syndrome—and that she’s woefully unprepared to care for him. What’s worse, she has to deal with Taylor Cole, her sister’s attorney, a man Marnie once loved—and abandoned.
As Emmit (and Taylor) work their way into her heart, Marnie begins to heal. But when pieces of her dismal past surface again, she must at last face the scripts of paper in her box, all the regrets and sorrows. Can she do it? Or will she run again?
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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Read an Excerpt
Autumn snow fell like fat angels fluttering to earth. Emmit sat on the snowbank, his eyes closed, his head tipped back. He was a snowflake too, drifting on the breeze. Cold nibbled at his wings. Ice kissed his lashes. He stuck out his tongue and caught a flake. Why did the snow always melt away just when he finally got some? He reached up and scratched his too-small ears with a too-small hand. Then he adjusted his heavy, Coke-bottle glasses.
Something whispered in the wind. He held his breath and listened with all his might. He could almost hear the voices telling him that today he was fifteen years old. It was a big number. They all said so. He was a big boy now. All grown up.
And that meant it was time for the prayer to be answered. Not some little prayer about sniffly noses and friends at school. Not one about nice weather or where to park a car. This prayer was important. It was about love. It was about family. And God always answered those.
Emmit wiggled deeper into the snow. The flakes fell in heavier clumps. He opened his eyes and waited.
The pretty light would be coming soon. The big whirring one on top of the truck that picked up the garbage from the cans on the street. He liked the light. Round and round. Round and round. It would come.
A screen door slammed. He looked back over his shoulder. A puffy white coat stood on the doorstep with a matching hat perched atop wisps of brown hair. The coat waved.
Emmit waved back. That’s how a mom should look. White coat, pink smile peeking from between collar and hat.
“Mighty cold out here, sweetie.” She motioned toward the snow as she spoke.
Emmit grinned. “I wait for pretty light.”
She nodded and trudged to the mailbox by the street. The box creaked when she opened it.
Then the pretty light came with a chug, a squeal, and the grinding of gears. The light turned and turned, made its way around the corner and up the street.
Emmit watched it. “Pretty light! Pretty light!” He called out to her, but she didn’t turn.
She stood there, hunched over a stack of white envelopes in her gloved hand.
The wind gusted.
The whirring light rumbled closer. Closer.
Then it happened. A little thing. A simple thing. It shouldn’t have mattered at all. But it did.
An envelope skittered from her hand and blew into the street. She went after it.
He stood. “Stop!” But he couldn’t stop it. Couldn’t stop her. And worse, he couldn’t stop the lights.
Her boot hit ice. It slipped from under her. Envelopes mixed with the angels in the air. Fluttering, flying, drifting on the breeze.
But they weren’t angels. Not at all.
Emmit yelled and yelled. But it didn’t help. So he closed his eyes, plugged his ears. He held his breath. But that didn’t matter either. He still heard the terrible squeal. The dull thud.
And then, the awful silence.
He peeked out and saw her, a still, white blob on a dirty, white street.
The whirring light stopped.
Emmit sat down and cried into the drifting snow. But that didn’t make any difference either. She didn’t get up. She didn’t move. No matter how much he cried.
Later other lights came. Red and blue and more yellow. Lights on a black-and-white car. Lights on a big red fire engine. Lights on a white van with the letters A-M-B-U-L-A-N-C-E printed real big on the side.
They weren’t pretty lights. He didn’t like them at all.
He shivered. But no one noticed him. They just buzzed around the new lights like bugs. They weren’t bugs. But they still buzzed and shouted and flew away.
And he just sat there, tears freezing on his cheeks, a cold fist rubbing his wet nose. How could this be the answer to prayer? This didn’t seem like any answer at all.
This seemed like everything gone all wrong.
He wiped the ice from his face, lay back in the snow, and moved his arms and legs up and down, up and down. Three times to make the image of an angel in the bank.
A perfect angel. A snow angel. Just for her. Because she was what a mom should be. Because he loved her too. Because she was gone.
The new lights took her.
And then the snow stopped falling.
Marnie Helen Wittier hated baby showers. She also hated her middle name, but that was another story. What mattered now was that despite her intense dislike of powder pink balloons, little crocheted socks, and cheap plastic baby bottles, she now wove in and out
of handmade tables at her own coffee shop, offering floral-dressed women fresh pumpkin-shaped cookies and specialty lattes.
The only thing worse would be if she had to wear one of those foofoo dresses. But a gal had to draw the line somewhere. If not at pink balloons and pastel teacups, then at least at swaying dresses and—gasp!—high heels. She wouldn’t be caught dead in heels.
But she could put up with pretty tulips on the tables, the pink and white streamers, and that ridiculous It’s a Girl! papier-mâché sign, because this shower was for Kinna Henley. And if anyone deserved the perfect baby shower, that woman did. After all last year’s troubles piled onto years of infertility, Kinna had earned the best shower Marnie could think of. That’s the only reason she’d said “of course” when those ladies from the
church asked to hold the event here.
Still, that didn’t stop her from snatching a pink napkin, scrawling the words Hosting a baby shower…what was I thinking??? on it, and stuffing it in her pocket. The napkin would go into her box of regrets later. A reminder to never, ever do anything this stupid again.
Marnie delivered her last latte to a woman dressed in a particularly agonizing shade of fuchsia, then hurried back to her spot behind the coffee bar. Her reflection shot back at her from the mirror behind the bar—short, spiked hair, dyed jet black, and dark plum eye shadow to match. The look would have worked perfectly with a nose ring, except she couldn’t stand to get one. How on earth did people blow their noses with that thing sticking in there? So she’d settled for an extra sterling silver stud in her ear and called it good.
She supposed she ought to try out a more conservative look, now that she was turning thirty-five, but so far she hadn’t gotten up the nerve. Besides, it was too fun shocking the old ladies at church. She grinned, then stuck her tongue out at the image in the mirror. That was more like it. Marnie Wittier would not let one baby shower get her down.
She put her hands on her hips and turned back toward the room. Half was a coffee shop, the other half a small bookstore, separated by a wall and wide french doors. Marnie smiled. Her favorite things: books and coffee. And people enjoying both. Right now the crowd of pinkcheeked church women gathered on one side of Marnie’s Books and Brew
while a few other customers lingered on the other. Kinna was opening gifts. At least the baby was a girl. Marnie could handle a shower full of pinks and yellows.
But not blue. Lord knew she’d never be able to face blue. On her right, Marcus wandered the aisles of the book section, straightening and shelving the latest box of Christian fiction she’d ordered. He had a piercing—in his eyebrow, not his nose—and his hair stood out in all directions. Good kid. Honest. Even if his head looked like the wrong end of a mop. He grinned at her and she smiled back.
Old Joe cleaned the table they’d use for a book signing that evening. And just coming through the door was the new girl from Oklahoma she’d hired. Poor thing, mother named her Daisy. Daisy from Oklahoma, with corncob-colored hair and cornflower blue eyes. She’d be lucky if she survived two weeks in California. But everyone deserved a chance. Even a girl named Daisy.
Marnie sighed and gathered some cookies from the tray on the counter. She glanced at her employees and customers. They were her friends, her family. What a family should have been. Not that she knew anything about that. Foster homes didn’t teach her a whole fat lot about family. But she was great at packing a suitcase in forty-five seconds flat.
So the whole foster-home thing wasn’t a total waste.
She threw the cookies on a plate, then scooted out into the room. Pretty soon she’d have to add another table in the coffee part of the shop. She had plans for two more. One made from, of all things, coffee cups and another covered with crayon drawings from her customers’ kids. She’d protect the drawings under a glass tabletop. The cup table would sit next to the driftwood table, and the crayon concoction would nestle between the auto-parts table and the one made out of toothpicks. She loved those tables. All of them. They were hers. They were special. They were…they were home.
Laughter drifted from the group of women. Marnie smiled. She couldn’t help it. Yeah, this was a baby shower. But it was worth it to see the change in Kinna. And not just in the size of the woman’s belly, but in her eyes. In her soul. Something that happened last year. A miracle, she’d said.
Well, Marnie didn’t know much about miracles. Mistakes maybe. And accidents. And stupid, monstrous mess ups. She knew a lot about those. But miracles? Those were for other people. Good people. Like Kinna and Jimmy. Not for single coffee-shop owners who a long time ago had run away from the place she’d hoped to call home.
Don’t worry, God, I’m not looking for any miracles. Her gaze shot up to the ceiling, and she winked.
Half a second later, the floor jolted. The walls shook. Glasses jiggled, the row of autumn pumpkins shuddered, and two stacks of paper cups tipped and fell. Marnie widened her stance and allowed the ground to rumble beneath her.
Conversation stopped, and in the jingling quiet came a sharp squeal. Daisy. The floor stilled. Voices took up where they’d left off. And life rolled on, just as before. Except for the cornflower girl huddled beneath the tinfoil table.
Marnie suppressed her grin as she sauntered toward Daisy and helped the girl up from beneath the shiny table. You could always tell who the out-of-staters were. Poor kid.
The girl’s eyes were as big as the pumpkin cookies. “Th-that was a big one, wasn’t it?”
Marnie patted her arm, then cocked her head toward the church women. “Listen.”
A moment later, the numbers came.
“Four-point-three.” That guess came from Kinna. A sharp voice spoke next. “Naw, that was at least a five-point-six.”
“Five-point-zero even, mark my words.”
A Vietnamese woman named Mai stood, though you could barely tell she was standing. “What earthquake?” She shook her head and put on her thickest accent. “I no feel a thing. You white girls such pansies.”
They all laughed.
Then a single, old, trembling hand rose from amid the group. Josephina.
Marnie leaned closer to Daisy. “Are you listening? Here it comes.”
Josephina’s quavering voice silenced the others. “Four-point-eight.” She stuck her gray head out from the group of women. “Turn on the radio, mija.”
Marnie clicked on the news. After a few minutes, it came. A deep timbered voice said, “Reports of a four-point-eight earthquake centered outside Castroville.” Not too far from Marnie’s in Pacific Grove. Everyone clapped, including the customers on the far side of the room.
Marnie put a finger under Daisy’s chin and closed the girl’s mouth.
Daisy’s tone dropped to a whisper. “How does she do that?”
Marnie chuckled. “She’s lived in Monterey County since her familia came over the border in the early 1930s. Rumor has it Josephina was three years old, and she hasn’t set foot out of the county since. Been here for every last earthquake that’s shaken the coast. The woman’s a phenomenon.”
Marnie slapped her hands together and raised her voice over the dwindling applause. “Okay, Josephina’s special tea for everyone, on the house.”
They all cheered.
It had taken Marnie eight tries to get the tea just right. “You have to make it just like mi madre used to make it,” Josephina kept saying, and ever since it had been a customer favorite. Marnie’s special mix. The bell jingled from the front door. Marnie looked up. A purple shirted man pushed through the opening. He turned. No, not a man, just a kid. A pimply-faced boy with a silly purple hat to match his plum purple shirt, with an electronic clipboard balanced on his arm.
He waved at her. “Hey, Marnie.”
She lifted her eyebrows. “Scott? You got a new job?”
He grinned and pointed at some tiny lettering on his shirt. “We do it faster.”
Marnie stepped toward him. “Who are you looking for?”
Marnie blew her bangs off her forehead with a quick puff of air. Thank goodness. She’d been waiting and waiting for that new bean grinder from Italy. She rubbed her hands together. “Well, where is it?”
Scott pulled a slim envelope from beneath the clipboard and held it out to her. “Here ya go.”
“That’s not a bean grinder.”
Figured. “That it? Just an envelope?”
“Yep. Sign here.”
Marnie took the plastic pen, signed, and watched as Scott tucked the clipboard back under his arm and strode toward the door. He threw another jaunty wave over his shoulder.
“Got a new toffee nut,” she called after him. “Come back later and try it out.”
“New books too?”
“A whole shipment came in just this morning.”
“It’s a date.” The door thudded shut.
A date. She shook her head. Her friends were always teasing her about dates, because everyone knew Marnie Wittier never, ever went on a date. And she didn’t go to the beach either. Those were her rules.
A series of ooo’s and ahhh’s rose from the women. Marnie glanced at them. Kinna held up a complete set of pink Onesies. Striped pink, flowered pink, pink polka dots, and even one with little pink monkeys. Good grief. Call out the pink police.
Marnie turned away and reached for the letter. It was in a beige linen envelope, heavy, official. Expensive. Who would be sending her something like that? She flipped it over to the front.
The air escaped the room. Time sucked in an empty breath. And Marnie sensed her world tipping around her. No… Slowly, so slowly, she extended her finger and touched the fancy attorney’s logo on the envelope’s upper-left corner. A crescent wave, a block C, and a flat line like the shore on a calm day. Her arm moved as she traced the name beneath. His name. But it couldn’t be. Shouldn’t be. Must not be. And yet…
Marnie blew out a long breath. The earthquake had come. The real one, more real than any earth tremor, than any tipping cups, than walls that shuddered and stopped. A single logo, a single name. They rocked her world. And if she were to measure, she’d call it an eight-point-oh for sure.
She closed her eyes. It’s not real. It can’t be. Her life was good now. Finally. She was surrounded by people who cared. People who just knew her as Marnie, the friendly Books and Brew owner. That’s all they knew, all they needed to know. But the man whose name would be inside that envelope knew something else. He knew who she used to be. He knew everything. Well, almost everything anyway, including the fact that she’d
once loved him.
Or maybe he didn’t, because she never did tell him so. She’d run away from him first. Run away and left love, left hope, behind. But she brought the pain with her. The pain, the guilt, the regret. She’d kept those locked in a seashell-covered box on a top shelf in her little cottage too close to the bay.
Marnie snatched up the letter and stuffed it into her pocket. It burned there like hot espresso. But she couldn’t open it. Not here. Not now. Seeing that logo was enough. Because after all these years, it had happened.
He found me.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Meet the Author
MARLO SCHALESKY is the author of several acclaimed novels, including Christy Award winner Beyond the Night. A graduate of Stanford University, Marlo also has a masters of theology from Fuller Theological Seminary. She’s a regular columnist for Power for Living and lives with her husband, Bryan, and five children in California.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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Marnie owns Books and Brew bookstore-coffee shop in Pacific Grove, California. Sixteen years ago she lived across the country in Clam Unction, where she fell in love with a visiting lawyer named Taylor Cole from New York, but the relationship did not work out. She ended up leaving her drama filled lifestyle with her family, as well as her estranged sister Rose, in hopes of finding joy and happiness in America. Then a voice from her past Taylor Cole has found her and calls to inform Marnie that her sister died, and her sister Rose has named Marnie as guardian to her fifteen year old son Emmit. Arriving at the airport Marnie is shocked to find her nephew has Downs Syndrome. Amongst all of her struggles to raise Emmit, as her and Taylor end up falling in love. With the ending finally bringing the readers out of suspense to with a shocking ending, they will find that Marlo Schalesky has written another great novel. This book was provided to me for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.
I got halfway through this novel before deciding to skip to the end, I just did not want to invest any more of my life with this mess. Marnie, the heroine, is a thoughtless, self doubting woman who runs away from the slightest difficulty. Her rudness towards her sister is grating. She wears clompy boots to her sister's elegant dinner party just to show her that she is her own person and causes a disaster. It goes so badly,she does it again. The author subjects us to every tiny thought that goes through Marnie's and Taylor's minds. It seems like an endless repetition of the same "poor me" thoughts. But what really got to me is the bizarre ending which included buried secrets that just couldn't or wouldn't ever happen. I felt, as a Christian, this ending was almost super natural and totally inappropriate coming from a Christian author. At 325 pages, this novel was about 200 pages too long.
Deeply moving and inspirational!! A treat and a joy to read!!!!
"Some people were meant to love. Others only watched from the outside..because once, a long time ago, she had a single chance to love. One glimmering impossible opportunity. And she'd blown it. Big time." Today Marnie meets her sisters' child for the first time. He's fifteen and has Downs's syndrome. How could her sister Rose, keep a secret like this? Taylor, the executor of her sister's will and former friend was asking the impossible; she couldn't raise Rose's son, Emmit. Marnie was single and had a coffee shop to run, people depended on her. Her life was full, and no room for anything else. But the longer Emmit stayed and the more she learned about him, a surprising thing happened. Marnie realizes she needs him. "Emmit was showing her the way home. He was showing her how to trust," in people and in God again. Taylor realizes he has his own struggles with God and Marnie.."God, who wanted him to let go. God, who had never stopped pursuing him. God, who wanted the past for Himself." Why couldn't he let go? What was he afraid of? I'm so glad I received a review copy of this amazing, powerful, heartfelt story. Marlo has a talent to captivate you from the start and immediately draw on your heart strings, because her characters are believable and they deal with circumstances beyond themselves. I felt for Emmit's situation as he was forced to live with an Aunt he'd never met. This author captures the endearing qualities of Emmit and the real issues he struggles with being a Down's syndrome teenager, but at the same time you'll see the simple way he views life and knows what's important. He hopes Marnie realizes it before it's too late. I was absolutely taken in by Emmit praising God in church, how he loved life and I laughed at his obsession with doughnuts! When you meet Emmit and get to know him, you won't look at another Downs' syndrome child the same. I highly recommend this novel. The story and its characters will stay with you long after the last page is read. Nora St. Laurent The Book Club Network www.bookfun.org Finding Hope Through Fiction www.psalm516.blogspot.com
In following the present story of Marnie Wittier, it would also take us to the past of a young love she believed to have died with Taylor Cole. The story is based between what happened then, and how it shaped who she is today, a young lady with many regrets as to how the past has ultimatly shaped what she has become. However, a young boy with Downs Syndrome teaches her how to love, and let the past be in the past and that the Son can take it all, and erase our sins, and make them white as snow. Emmit, (the young boy) teaches her how to love, and to let her past go, and in turn can find true love in her present, and future.
This gripping novel was well-written and I loved the plot twists. It was a page-turner, especially towards the end. I truly enjoyed that Marnie and Taylor had a love story in this novel yet were in different cities for all but one scene! That created a mystery and suspense for me, the reader. Marlo answered a question in each chapter then asked another one, creating a heightened sense of curiosity to keep me reading. I was intrigued by this style and loved it!
Sometimes in our lives, we make terrible mistakes. Or the paths of our lives take turns that leave us completely bewildered. We question God. We falter in our trust of Him. We wonder if we can ever be forgiven - or how we ever came to be where we are. And yet there isn't a cloud or a shadow that crosses our path that is not sent by our loving Heavenly Father. We may not understand the darkness. We may not see the Light within. And we certainly can't see beyond our present circumstances. We must trust. We must let God work. And we will see the joy that is to come in the morning. Shades of Morning by Marlo Schalesky is a beautifully written story about past mistakes, dark presents, and joyful futures. It is a story of God's love for His children, His redemption, and their need to trust Him through everything. For He is working on each of us - for His own wonderful glory.
This is a book that most of us will be able to relate to. Who doesn't have their regrets that they would rather forget (and wishes everyone else would, too)? Marnie thinks she has total control over her life but then she is thrown a curve ball. Her nephew, Emmit, teaches her what is important and brings her into a relationship with God. The ending was wonderful and it was a great summer reading book. Lovely and gentle and encouraging. You'll love this book - I did.
Just when you think you've got things figured out, and things are going well - life throws you a curve ball and suddenly your peaceful, quiet existence is turned upside down. This is what happened to Marnie Wittier. Escaping a painful childhood growing up in foster care, Marnie had fled her hometown in Maine, cut off communication with her older sister Rose, and recreated a life for herself in Pacific Grove, California. Fifteen years had past, and Marnie was now the owner of Books and Brew, a combo coffeeshop/bookstore where friends were like family and she was relatively happy. Then she receives a letter from Taylor Cole, an old flame from her past, which began - "Dear Miss Wittier - We regret to inform you that your sister has passed away." And in a flash, Marnie's life was changed. The letter from Taylor, who was now an attorney representing her sister's estate, goes on to inform her that she had been made guardian of her sister's son, Emmitt, a child Marnie had no idea existed, and that Taylor was sending Emmitt to live with her. With her emotions in turmoil, Marnie is swept back to the past as memories of her difficult sister Rose and her sudden illness, being with Taylor as he helped her track down their birth mother, and the painful events that caused her to run come rushing back. And when fifteen year old Emmitt arrives, Marnie is shocked to find out that the boy has Down Syndrome, and while a charming child, he is quite a handful for Marnie to deal with. Marnie accepts her new responsibilities and as she begins to get to know Emmitt, she comes to love his inconsistent but happy ways as he manages to wiggle into her heart. And letters back and forth with Taylor, who had been a part of Emmitt's life since his birth, are slowly healing her heartache over their breakup. Letting go of regrets and finding forgiveness seem to be within Marnie's grasp. But just as things are beginning to even out, a secret from the past threatens to shake up the fragile foundations of family that have begun, and Marnie's new life as a single mom may be altered forever. In Marlo Schalesky's novel, "Shades of Morning," life and love are thrown into a twist as a painful past and the tenuous future collide in the present, changing lives and hearts forever. A Christy Award winning author, Schalesky adeptly draws her readers into the heartwarming story that features romance, heartache, sorrow and happiness. Her characters are realistic, and her conscientious treatment of the Down Syndrome storyline is lovingly and well portrayed. The moral lesson of forgiveness and redemption found within the story of "Shades of Morning" are gentle reminders to be open to what God sends your way. This charming story is full of love and joy, and is sure to be a blessing to those who read it.
She knew a lot about those. But miracles? Those were for other people. Marnie Wittier has life just where she wants it. Quiet. Peaceful. No drama. A long way away from her past. In the privacy of her home, she fills a box with slips of paper scribbled with her regrets, sins, and sorrows. But that's nobody else's business. Her bookstore/coffee shop patrons, her employees, her friends from church - they all think she's the very model of compassion and kindness. Then Marnie's past creeps into her present when her estranged sister dies and makes Marnie guardian of her fifteen-year-old don - a boy Marnie never knew existed. And when Emmit arrives, she discovers he has Down syndrome - and that she's woefully unprepared to care for him. What's worse, she has to deal with Taylor Cole, her sister's attorney, a man Marnie once loved - and abandoned. As Emmit and Taylor work their way into her heart, Marnie begins to heal. But when pieces of her dismal past surface again, she must at last face the pieces of paper in her box, all the regrets and sorrows. Can she do it? Or will she run again? (excerpt back cover). My Review: THE BEST BOOK I've read to date! Yes, it really is that great and outstanding. If you ever wanted to purchase an award winning book, THIS IS IT! Shades of Morning by Marlo Schalesky is one of the top picks in my opinion. The story of Marnie Wittier and her sister Rose is so heartwarming. They both find themselves in the foster care system and have for once settled with a lady named Doris who raises them up as best as she can. Meanwhile, Marnie has always desired to know who her real mom was and if she is still living. Rose knows but won't tell Marnie, until one day Rose has a heart condition and the doctors need to know her medical history. Will Rose finally tell? Later in the story we learn how Marnie has spent the last 15 years trying to forget the life and love she has left behind. Until she learns that Rose has died tragically and has left her only son, Emmit to Marnie. Now Marnie will have to learn how to deal with a boy she has never known and who has Down syndrome as well. He is prone to outbursts when she least expects it, whines until he gets he way, and can make the biggest messes she's ever seen. Oh how can she be expected to care for a boy when she can barely take care of herself? I absolutely loved how this book turned out in the end, nothing like I would have guessed or expected. Even now, trust me if you think you can figure it out, you won't. I would rate this book an 11 because it steps outside the rating scale as over the top, GREAT! This book is part of my permanent library for anyone looking for a great feel good book. I received this book compliments of WaterBrook Multnomah for my honest review. For more information on the book, the author and where to get your copy, click on the link below: http://waterbrookmultnomah.com/catalog.php?isbn=9781601420251
I really enjoyed the book, but the ending took me by surprise and I had some difficulty understanding it. The book was very inspirational, there were a lot of twists in the storyline and it was a quick read. The readers guide helped me understand the ending better. I have never read any of the author's novels before and I look forward to reading her next novel.
This book was very interesting. At first, I thought it was going to be a very easy read but then it had un-expecting twists and turns. It is NOT what I was expecting and I was honestly glad. It provoked questions in my mind and heart that most days are not never on my radar as a stay at home mom. I appreciate the honesty through out the book dealing with downs syndrome not making it an easy road like some television shows. It was in part humorous but so very lifelike. I also appreciated the walks of faith suggested of the characters in the story and how real it seemed. This could easily be the story of our neighbors and friends. This book would be quickly recommend as a great read to take on a plane or a long road trip. I would not recommend this book to younger readers due to the mature material described and suggested. This book was provided to me by WaterBrook Multnomah. Note: I was sent complimentary copy for review purposes only. This review has not been monetarily compensated. The review was my honest opinion and views and not influenced by the sponsor in any way.
Marnie Helen Wittier was a 20-year-old wild biker with long, dark hair when she first met Taylor Dole, an attorney she talked into helping her find her mother. She and her sister, Rose, had been abandoned ten years earlier and had lived in foster homes. Because Rose wouldn't disclose the whereabouts of their mother, Marnie moved from Maine to California once she found her mother. She opened up a bookstore/coffee shop called Books and Brew. Life was as good as it could be considering her life, until Taylor found her. Sixteen years after she'd moved, wearing short, spiked hair, estranged from her sister, Marnie finds out through Taylor's letter that Rose has died and was survived by her 15-year-old son, Emmit. Taylor had written her that Rose's will stipulated that Emmit was to be put in her charge-a young man she didn't know even existed. When he arrived, she found that he had Down syndrome, and was totally unprepared to care for him. Having had a brother-in-law with Down syndrome, Marlo pegged Emmit's behaviors to a 't.' Warm and loving, stubborn and determined. She brought such loving memories back to my mind. Emmit will endear himself into your heart. The character of Marnie and Taylor, entwined by their past, is drawn out by the events of Rose's death and Emmit's guardianship. Tough, yet broken, Marnie learns how to love. Taylor, alone and lonely, doesn't want to lose Emmit. Marlo weaves a story of love and family loyalty throughout the tough circumstances. This is a very touching and moving story. The only problem I had was with Emmit's true character in the end. That aside, your heartstrings will be tugged by all involved! This book was provided for free by Kelly Blewett, Publicist, KBK Public Relations, in exchange for my honest review. It was a heart-warming experience.
Every once in awhile, I come across a book that is haunting, poignant, beautiful. One that moves my very heart and soul. A book that makes the me feel so glad that I read it, even while I'm mopping the tears that are streaming down my face. (Stock up on those tissues...you're gonna need them!) A book that I know I will cherish time and time again. In a nut shell, this book is fantastic! Many thanks to Kelly Blewett and Waterbrook Multnomah for the opportunity to review this book.
I am so glad that I was allowed to review this book. Marnie has had so many problems in her past that are now affecting her future. She has never really felt worthy of love. That comes out all through this book. How many times do we feel like we don't deserve to be happy, or loved? At an early age Marnie runs away and ends up owning a coffee/book store. She has broken all ties with those in her past, including her only sister. Marnie's past comes back to haunt her when she receives a letter from the man she loves but ran away from. She is informed that she is to become the guardian of Emmit her sister's son after her sister was killed in an accident. Taylor the lawyer has grown to love Emmit and it tears him up to send Emmit out to Marnie. It means they both must face their past. Marnie has dealt with her past by keeping reminders of her mistakes in a box. When Emmit, a downs-syndrome boy arrives he finds the box. As he slowly picks the pieces out he teaches Marnie to face her past and learn to love. The great thing about this book was just when you thought you had it all figured out there is another boy thrown in the mix. Who is the real Emmit and why has all of this happened. I loved this book and can't wait to recommend it to all of my friends.
I struggle when I need to be honest and give a negative review as is the case with this book. I think this review will be easier if I break it down: Storyline: The storyline is that a 15 year old boy with Down's Syndrome has just lost his mother and is being sent to live with his aunt. The aunt left town 15 years ago and left her sister and boyfriend (who had left town and she didn't know if he was coming back). The boy arrives and throws the sister's life into chaos, but she adjusts and learns a lot about life and herself in the process. Writing: The writing is good and easy to read. Pretty descriptive on some things. You can tell that the main character has a hard shell and some parts are very sad and heartbreaking to read. Plot: The plot is where my concerns about this book lie. There is a twist at the end that doesn't work. It's crucial to the plot, too. I looked back and reread the beginning to see if I had misread something into the story, but I hadn't. There are some details at the end that are implausible and very unrealistic as well. The twist at the end made me feel deceived and manipulated. That's the best way I can put it. You know when someone convinces you of something only to tell you that it's not true? That's how it felt. I don't like that feeling. It makes me feel manipulated. The twist at the end could also be very disheartening to a reader if you or someone you know has Down's Sydrome. The message could be that life is easier or more valuable or better if one does not have Down's Sydrome or that your child does not. It is very difficult for me to know how to write about this book because at the end, the author writes a thank you to her editor for helping "make this book more of what God envisioned it to be." (from the Acknowledgements). I even like the Reader's Guide at the end. So, am I writing negatively about something that God inspired? Is this a great book and I'm missing it? Should a Christian Inspirational Fiction book be held to the same standards as any other book? Should all elements of the plot work together and be believable? I do know that God encouraged me through this book, yet I still wouldn't recommend it. I do think that the plot of a Christian book should be plausible. For a book to be great, I think you need both wonderful writing and a wonderful, well executed plot where the pieces all fit together--not where your trying to cram a piece into a space that it wasn't made for. That is what it felt like at the end. Several pieces were trying to be put into a space in the puzzle that they weren't made for. And I want to add one last caution, because of how the ending could be construed, I wouldn't encourage someone with a child with Downs Syndrome to read this book. Please note that I was given a complimentary copy of this book for review by Waterbrook/Multnomah.
Marnie Wittier owns Books and Brew bookstore-coffee shop in Pacific Grove, California. Sixteen years ago she lived across the country in Clam Unction, Maine where she fell in love with visiting New York lawyer Taylor Cole, but that failed to work out. She left New England to escape her drama family including her estranged sister Rose to live a genteel serene life. One phone call unanswered means her past has finally caught up with her. Taylor informs Marnie that her sister died, but named her as guardian to her fifteen year old son Emmit. When Emmit, accompanied by Taylor, arrives in California, already filled with regret Marnie is shocked to find her nephew has Downs Syndrome. As she and Taylor fall in love, Marnie struggles to be a mom to Emmit; who she loves very much while the townsfolk especially her customers welcome him as a God sent. This is an excellent inspirational tale that focuses on God giving people second chances whether they deserve them or not. The support cast is superb while the lead triangle and Max the iguana are great fragile characters. With a fascinating shocking final twist, readers will have no regrets with Marlo Schalesky's strong novel. Harriet Klausner