One phone call destroys all hope Becca Morrow has for a life beyond the shame of her past. Further discredited by the death of her elderly, ailing patient—the mother of the influential businessman, Isaac Hughes—Becca’s new life is shattered and her longing for love slips away. Working to clear her name, Becca must learn to see the beauty in the ugliness of dying, to accept the precious tenderness in forgiveness, and—at last—discover that where she belongs isn’t as much about her family history as it is about her faith in the One to whom she’ll always belong.
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All My Belongings
By Cynthia Ruchti
Abingdon PressCopyright © 2014 Cynthia Ruchti
All rights reserved.
The coffee tasted like burnt marshmallows. The charred bits. Jayne set the vending machine cup on the corner of her advisor's desk.
Patricia smiled over half-glasses. "Don't blame you." She nodded toward her oversized thermal tankard. "I bring my own from home."
"I'm surprised you wanted to see me today, Jayne. Aren't they—?"
"Yes." She directed her line of sight through Patricia Connor's office window, over the tops of the century-old oaks and maples lining the campus, toward the courthouse in the center of town.
"And you didn't want to be there?" The woman removed her glasses as if they interfered with her understanding.
Oh, I'm there. I've been there every agonizing moment. Several little shards of me are embedded in the hardwood floor in the courtroom. What's left of me wants an answer from you. "I need to find out if I can reenter the program where I left off."
Patricia leaned back in her nondescript office chair. "And you have to know today?"
Her advisor's head shook so slightly, Jayne assumed the movement originated in the nervous bounce of the woman's knee, not her neck. "We've had ... concerns."
"My grades were good."
"It's not that. Most nontraditional students are committed enough to pull decent grades."
Twenty-seven and nontraditional. In every way. Jayne leaned forward and added, "And work two jobs while doing it." She wouldn't look out the window again. Her future lay here, in this decision. "If you're worried about the financial aspect ..."
"Aren't you? Word is, you're tapped out with what your family's gone through."
She'd shelved the word family a year and a half ago, the day she found out her father's middle name was Reprehensible. Bertram Reprehensible Dennagee. Her mother didn't think she could endure the pain one more day. Her father made sure she didn't.
According to the charges against him, it wasn't the first time.
Thanks to Jayne's discovery, though, and her call to the police, it was the first time he'd been caught.
Her eyes burned behind her eyelids. She could feel her sinuses swelling.
She repositioned herself in the chair, dropping her shoulders from where they'd crept up near her ears, straightening her spine, breathing two seconds in, two seconds out. "I'll find a way. I need to finish the nursing program. Get on with my life. What's left of it."
Behind her a voice leaned into the room. "Did you hear? Guilty on all charges. They got him!"
Patricia's face blanched and pinched. Her eyes made arrows toward where Jayne sat.
The voice faded as it backed into the hall. The expletive a whisper, it still rattled the window, the bookcases, Jayne's ribs.
Lips pressed together, Jayne waited for her advisor to say something. And for her throat muscles to unclench.
Jayne let the hollow words bounce around the room for a moment. "About the verdict? Not unexpected."
"Have you thought about trying another school of nursing? Someplace a little farther away from—"
From her father's reputation? How far was that?
* * *
I.C.E. In Case of Emergency. Geneva Larkin's name and code showed on her cell phone screen. Jayne hadn't turned the key in the ignition yet, twenty minutes after leaving Patricia's office. Perfectly safe to use her cell phone even though she was behind the wheel. Safe. If it had been anyone but Geneva—the mentor who'd kept her tethered to reality since Jayne was ten years old and for all practical purposes orphaned—she wouldn't have thought so.
She punched the talk button. Deep breath. "Hello?"
"Where are you?"
"Depths of despair. Where are you?"
Geneva's smile registered through the phone. "Whatever you do, maintain that sense of humor, Jayne. Don't know how you can, but it's going to keep you upright. That and the God of the Universe who holds you in the palm of His—"
"I couldn't go to the courthouse."
"I'm there now. The reporters are going nuts looking for you."
Jayne slid her hand down the side of the seat and flicked the lever to move her farther from the constraints of the steering wheel. "I don't think I can go back to my apartment.
They'll be waiting for me."
"It's what they do."
"'So, Ms. Dennegee, how does it feel to know your father's headed for prison because of you?' 'Fine. Thanks for asking.'"
"He's going to prison because of his own sins, Jayne, not yours."
"Is that what you tell all the snitches?"
"You did the right thing. You did the only thing you could do. What kind of guilt would you bear right now if you hadn't turned him in?"
The temperature in the car peaked somewhere between preheat and broil. Jayne reached across the seat to roll down the passenger side window of her aging, no-frills Cavalier. Cross ventilation proved a false hope on a corn-ripening day in Iowa. "He's my daddy."
The word she'd vowed not to use again.
"Hon"—Geneva cleared her throat—"sometimes the bravest thing we can do is let the guilt go."
"Don't hold your breath."
"Don't hold yours."
"It's not automatic anymore." Jayne rested her forehead on the steering wheel. If it left a mark, so be it. She'd been branded by her father's "community service" projects. What was one more deformity?
"Jayne, let me come get you. Where are you now?"
"Parking Lot B at the university."
"What are you doing there? Oh."
"The appointment with my faculty advisor was a scene you'll find amusing. Imagine hearing the final verdict from the TA who bops in with the good news, not knowing the convict's daughter is sitting in the room."
Geneva's pause communicated a paragraph of concern. "When do you start?"
"School? Never. Not here anyway. It would cause the administration 'discomfort' to deal with the press. What Dad did with his pharmacy degree isn't going to make it into the college recruitment brochure. Thanks to him, my name would apparently poison the student roster. Can you imagine roll call? 'Davis? Denmark? Dennagee?' Then gasps followed by silence."
"How can they have any complaint about you? This isn't your doing."
No. It's my undoing. "Have you ever walked through a barn and then noticed that your clothes and hair smelled like manure, even if you hadn't touched any?"
"I always said drama was your gift. Don't know why you chose nursing rather than the theater. But we can rehash that later. Let me pick you up. We'll go out to the lake. Give the press a chance to lose interest in you."
"The diner is expecting me for the four-to-midnight shift."
Geneva's sigh could have moved a Richter needle well beyond six point five. "Call. In.
Sick. Good grief. Of all days, this would be the day to call in sick."
"Can't do that."
"Then call in 'done'."
"Geneva! Aren't you the one who always preached responsibility?"
"At this point, I don't think you can afford to stay at a place that shrivels your soul."
"I did for most of my childhood."
* * *
"You aren't afraid the neighbors will ostracize you because of your association with me?" Jayne took the iced tea Geneva offered and settled back into the slope of the lime green Adirondack chair on the cottage's narrow deck.
Geneva's age showed when she lowered herself into a raspberry-colored chair with the same odd-to-get-into, comfortable-when-in, odd-to-exit slope. "Most are weekenders. We keep to ourselves."
"I haven't been out here for a while. I think I was fifteen the last time. The summer before Mom's illness had a name. After that, fun wiggled its way out of our family dictionary." She sipped her tea. The cold soothed her tense, raw throat.
"It shouldn't have happened that way."
"ALS is a consuming disease. All ... consuming."
Geneva's tea glass landed on the arm of her chair with a pronounced thunk. "No disease justifies neglecting a child." She swatted at a sun-drunk fly. "It's as if they forgot you existed except as a caregiver."
Jayne could see the burning ember of the sun on the inside of her eyelids. Fading. Fading. "Sometimes parents give you away, but they make you stay."
She opened her eyes to find the source of the low, chugging rumble. A pontoon boat a few dozen feet offshore crossed their field of vision. An elderly couple and a golden retriever. No fishing poles. No hurry. No real destination, it appeared. They waved. Jayne waved back as if her life were no more complicated than theirs.
A phone buzzed. Geneva's. The woman glanced at the screen then held the phone facedown on her thigh. "Work can wait."
"Don't mind me. I'll rehearse my 'It's the first day of the rest of my life' self-talk. Go ahead. Take the call."
Geneva rose from the chair, phone in hand, then into action. "Hey, Jeff. What's up?" She retreated into the cottage. With the windows open, the building offered no privacy. Jayne heard every word. "Our counteroffer did not include the seller's help with closing costs. Where'd they get that idea?"
Jayne listened as the woman morphed from friend and confidante to savvy businesswoman. Real estate suited her. More a people-to-home matchmaker than salesperson, she played the part well. So much to admire about that woman.
A familiar guilt-like claw gripped Jayne's stomach and squeezed. She'd had no choice. Turning her father in had nothing to do with her resentment over his pathological obsession with her mom's illness, with the way they both emotionally checked out of her life and replaced their daughter with a disease. Nothing. It was her civic duty to report what she'd witnessed.
Her mom's desperate cries—No, no, no!—silenced by his knee on her chest while atrophied limbs flailed against the syringe needle. Her mother must have known it was a lethal dose. The look of terror on her face—
The screen door squeaked open, then bounced twice before settling into place.
"How about a snack? And it doesn't matter that you think you're not hungry." Geneva spoke as if the sentences were all one word.
Jayne caught a whiff of the ever-recognizable bacon. "Bacon is a snack now?"
"Don't tell my internist. And not merely bacon. I'm making BLATs. The A stands for avocado in our BLTs. Okay with you?"
What kind of hideous creature am I? The thought of a BLAT derails my guilt trip.
Her father had no doubt already heard the piercing clang of metal on metal when the cell door closed behind him. And she—noble woman that she was—pushed the scene aside at the mention of bacon.CHAPTER 2
There's a breeze here." Jayne put down her forkful of potato salad and extended her arms to catch the updraft.
With a toile-patterned paper napkin that matched the paper plates on the patio table in front of them, Geneva wiped a tomato seed from her chin. "Often is."
"No breeze in town. I noticed."
Jayne left her arms extended and leaned into the wind but remained rooted to her chair. No soaring today.
"Where are you?"
She lowered her arms and resumed eating. "You ask that a lot lately."
"This time, I mean. Where were you mentally just now, when you closed your eyes and let yourself enjoy the moment? Don't answer, 'Here.' That's too obvious."
Geneva always had made her think.
"Floating above all this, I guess."
"And in your mind's eye, where did you land?"
Jayne crunched a baby carrot and chewed it while she thought. She swallowed every tiny bit before responding. "I haven't been cleared for landing."
Geneva crossed her arms over her chest and tucked her fists under her chin. Head down. The posture of contemplation. Or was it a new prayer posture? She lifted her head and rested her hands on the surface of the patio table. "You can stay here for a while, if you'd like."
"I appreciate that. I can't go back to my apartment yet."
"I mean, longer-term. The cottage isn't winterized, but—"
"Long commute to work."
"Even if calling in 'done' hadn't been frowned upon by the diner establishment, I doubt I'll find a job of any consequence within a three-state radius. Who'd hire me? I betrayed my own father. I've only finished a third of nursing school and that took me four times as long as it should have because of taking care of Mom. And the Dennagee name isn't exactly a foot in the door, if you know what I mean."
"That will fade."
"Things like this don't fade. They ferment."
Geneva tugged a lettuce leaf from her sandwich and ate it. "Lots of great food depends on the fermentation process."
"Was that supposed to make me feel better?"
"You're welcome to stay here until the snow flies, or until you find a job elsewhere.
How far are you willing to go?"
Jayne's ankle itched. A mosquito. She scratched at it, knowing full well it would only make it worse. "How far would you want to run from a reputation like my father's?"
Across the lake, a lawn mower roared to life. How well sound carried on water.
"I have brownies in the freezer," Geneva said.
"Let's try to sneak into town tomorrow to gather your belongings."
Jayne could search every corner of her apartment—or her life for the last many years—and not find a crumb that matched the definition of belongings.
Longings trump belongings any day.
* * *
Living simply had been more from necessity than choice. She'd understood her parents' need to pour money into a litany of treatment options and pain reducers. She'd understood why they couldn't help her with college costs, or high school graduation costs, or the cost of shoes and jeans and jackets. They'd downsized how many times? It was the way they'd budgeted their affection for her—Scrooge-stingy with their love—that created the sense of living on the edge of emotional bankruptcy.
Except for the influence of a handful of people like Geneva. Then only a couple of people. When forced to quit college mid-semester after her mother's ALS took an even more prominent center-stage role, Jayne saw her world shrink to the dimensions of whatever part-time jobs she could slip between the hours she spent caregiving.
Her dad started staying later than the pharmacy was open, then rushed in and pushed Jayne aside as if no one could care for his wife like he could. How had Jayne become an annoyance when she'd started out as a product of their honeymoon?
Geneva tapped her on the shoulder, stirring Jayne from the dark hallways of memory. "Do you want to keep this?" She held a lamp with three graduated amber glass globes that reminded Jayne of a see-through snowman made from dirty snow.
"Belongs to the landlord. None of the furniture is mine. Not much of the décor."
"Good. I was beginning to worry about your lack of taste." Geneva smiled in the dim light.
So far, her "must save" items clattered against one another in the bottom of a box. What was the name of that movie with the office guy who fought the world to hold onto his red stapler? Even Jayne's stapler belonged to the landlord. The oceanview mouse pad was hers. And the verse-a-day flip calendar. And a bottle of Advil. She shook it like a maraca before dropping it into the box's cavernous mouth. Half a bottle left. Without a regular paycheck, she'd have to ration them.
Jayne picked up the box and used her hip to push the straight-backed chair tight against the flea market desk. The flip calendar lay open to a verse that read, "'There's a time for searching and a time for losing.' Ecclesiastes 3:6." Did that wisdom apply to the search for a place to belong? Lost. Time to admit it.
Had Bertram Dennagee's homespun Kevorkian actions made it impossible for her to know a true home?
She set the box on the bed beside an open suitcase she'd borrowed from Geneva. The dresser emptied in less than five minutes. Neatness counted little in the middle of the night. They'd managed to dodge the expected ambush of reporters. They'd be back at dawn, no doubt. Jayne and Geneva planned to be long gone before then.
The apartment hadn't been the refuge Jayne hoped when she moved out of her parents' latest downsize after her mother's death and her father's arrest. The one room seemed as cold as it had the day she became a renter. All the more so, shadowed as it now was, with a minimum of lights to illuminate their packing. It wasn't that she had no nesting instinct, Jayne assured herself. But temporary seemed stamped across everything she called her own.
Excerpted from All My Belongings by Cynthia Ruchti. Copyright © 2014 Cynthia Ruchti. Excerpted by permission of Abingdon Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Deb’s Dozen: Euthanasia, Trial, Conviction, A New Life, Another Death, False Accusation, Redemption, Happiness. All My Belongings by Cynthia Ruchti tells the story of Becca Morrow aka Jayne Dennagee. Jayne’s father was convicted of mercy-killing her mother, who was dying of ALS—along with many other people in similar situations. To escape his reputation and the recognition that her last name held in people’s eyes, Jayne changes her name to Becca Morrow. Her good friend, Geneva, convinces her to go to California to care for her sister, Aurelia, who is dying from Alzheimer’s and heart disease. Aurelia’s son, Isaac, cannot manage the care of his mother himself and welcomes Becca into their lives. I read the book in manuscript form first. As I wrote to Cynthia, “I couldn’t put All My Belongings down—I was enraptured and caught up in the words, in the feelings. I loved the romance and the mystery and the beauty of God’s grace and love that overarched the story. I know just how Becca felt with Aurelia—and with her dad. This was such a blessing.” I wrote those words because I could empathize with Isaac—my dad died from Alzheimer’s and heart failure. I could empathize with Becca, not because of what her father had done, but because she cared for him until he passed away—naturally—from his cancer. However, I couldn’t write the review after the book came out until now. You see, I cared for my mom in my home until she died. This book hit home for me way too hard after Mom’s death. But healing takes place, albeit slowly, after the death of a loved one. There is such beauty in God’s grace and love. Reading the book for the second time was indeed such a blessing. I urge you to buy and read Becca and Isaac’s story. You will love the romance and be blessed by the outcome. There are indeed several love stories in All My Belongings—you’ll enjoy all of them. And Cynthia writes so beautifully. You will be captured by her characters and delighted with her descriptions. Five stars—and counting. Cynthia has over fourteen published books, with contracts for more. Her books have been recognized by the Selah Awards, Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, Christian Retailing’s BEST Awards, and she has received a Carol Award nomination. She and her husband live in Wisconsin where they enjoy their three children and five grandchildren. Abingdon Press gave me a copy of this book in exchange for my candid review.
Excitement bubbled within me when I chose Cynthia Ruchti’s newest publication, “All My Belongings” to read. One of first books I won in a giveaway and read on my new Kindle in 2010 was Ms. Ruchti’s debut novel “They Almost Always Come Home.” It was apparent to me then that Cynthia Ruchti was chock-full of the genuine writer’s spirit This story is an exceptionally uncommon plot and especially imaginative in detail. The subject matter was a total surprise …..unexpected as so rarely considered a writing topic, except possibly to true experiences reported in the news or horror stories – however my attention was swiftly captured. At first my mind could not relate to all the changes Jayne Dennagree, AKA Becca Morrow made in her life to run away with the intention to disappear - even from herself. She really had no choice being the type of person she was to reveal what she had witnessed and blame her father for causing her mother’s death. She had done a very brave and honorable thing – although some might consider her a snitch…..after all, her dad had gone to prison for life. The plot begins to thicken when Becca is interviewed by handsome lawyer Isaac Hughes for a caregiver position to his ill and aging mother Aurelia. Becca’s experience of giving care to her mother’s ALS disease gave her the courage to accept the position to care for Aurelia’s Alzheimer’s condition. Becca learns that she can feel new long forgotten emotion of compassion and love, including romantic sensations toward Isaac. Her life has only begun to settle into some normalcy when Aurelia suddenly mysteriously dies and Becca finds herself as the suspect in a murder investigation. Ms. Ruchti’s writing throughout this novel is brilliantly executed with twists and turns of love, compassion, mystery and suspense played out through excellent characterizations of the players she created. Becca, after going through heartache, healing and disappointment, illogical happenings, and the journey of life choices soon leads to a beautiful conversion to believing in God…. only after Becca’s realization that she could love and trust another in commitment. Assuming everyone wants a happy ending, the story is not finished…there is yet a surprise waiting in relation to another suspenseful matter from Becca’s past. Be prepared for your own emotions to be tendered when Becca becomes the instructor on remarkable forgiveness. Ms. Ruchti, you do not disappoint your readers ...an excellent read...our redeemer has blessed your pen indeed. I look forward to what you will think up next to entertain the reading crowd with the blessing of your distinctive panache. I received a free copy of this book from Litfuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review.
First off I have to say I love the beautiful cover, it fits so well. This is a wonderful story of true forgiveness, I don't know that I would've done what Becca did, especially being newly married. (I won't give that part away). She left her hometown to start a new life where no one will ever know who she really is. She meets Isaac, they fall in love and get married. Then her identity is blown and she's asked to do things that would be hard for most. I read the book in one day and I will say I enjoyed my day off! I thank God for putting such talent in the author that brings joy to so many. Yes, I loved the book and highly recommend it to anyone that loves to read. I received a copy of this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Wow! What a surprising (in a good way!) book! Based on the synopsis, I knew I would enjoy reading All My Belongings, but I had no idea how much I would love it! Isaac and Becca are both fantastic lead characters. They may be two of my favorite book friends this year! I liked them both right away but still found myself wanting to get to know them better. While the romance thread is very light throughout most of the book, there was enough of a spark early on that had me hoping for a happy ending for these two. I was shocked by the depth of topics the author addresses in this books—this is no light, fluffy romance novel! Ruchti brings some pretty serious subjects into the book (i.e., "mercy killings" and adoption) and manages to do so in a natural way. The author does a wonderful job of bringing everything full circle. I was surprised by a few things, but happy at the way it all played out. I also loved that where many books conclude, this author gave us about 60 more pages to truly bring things to a more natural—and finished—ending. My only criticisms are very minor. There were a few times when I was confused by how close Becca and Geneva were. Initially, Becca calls her "Geneva" but later she calls her "Mrs. Larkin." Not a huge deal, but I was confused. I also felt like there were a couple of points where the plot moved a little too fast. Again not a huge deal, but I would have liked to see these moments stretch out a little more. All in all, I truly loved All My Belongings. Cynthia Ruchti has written a moving and deep story that I am so glad I read! I can't wait to go back and read her previous novel, When the Morning Glory Blooms! [4.5 stars] I received a free copy of this book from Abingdon Press through Litfuse Publicity in exchange for my fair and honest review.
Inspirational! Becca's tale is complicated and heartrending, including a childhood void of love or support Her care-giving duties for her dying mother are thwarted when her father ends her mother's life with his Kevorkian-style method. A nursing school student, she is denied re-entry into the program because of her father's guilt and jail sentence for his mercy killings. Upon hearing from her nephew that her elderly sister is dying, an older friend of Becca's recommends her as caregiver. Becca changes her identity and a journey leads her halfway across the country to a life far from the past that haunts her. Her compassionate nature and sensitivity brighten the Hughes household as she finds ways to bring comfort and cheer to the elderly Mrs. Hughes during her last days, lifting the responsibility from her son who owns a successful real estate agency. All My Belongings is a beautifully descriptive, inspirational novel penned with compassion, elegance and passion. Cynthia Ruchti displays tremendous insight once again in this emotionally charged, intensely sensitive narrative of family dynamics, death and dying and starting over. The development of Becca's faith life is beautifully illustrated throughout the details in the relationships in this novel. Acceptance and forgiveness are strong elements that come to fruition in this inspiring story. The topics of mercy killing, adoption, deception and grief are blended with elements of humor, romance and beauty. I highly recommend this deeply moving story of life, death and new beginnings. Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own, and no monetary compensation was received for this review.
I received an inspirational, emotional, heartrending, extraordinary, well-written Advanced Reader's Copy of All My Belongings by Cynthia Ruchti free through Goodreads First Reads. After Jayne Dennagee's father is in prison for euthanasia, she changes her name legally to Becca Morrow and try to start over. Her friend Geneva Larkin's nephew, Issac, needs a caregiver for his mother in California. Becca enjoys taking care of Aurelia Hughes and seeing her son Issac when he stops by. While Becca is searching for the Bible verse Geneva mentioned about her name being written in the palm of God's hand, Aurelia wakes up. Aurelia mentions later to Becca she needs to find the bleeding heart. That night a page in the Bible is bookmarked Isaiah 49:16 "I have engraved your name on the palm of My Hands, saith the Lord." The verse was bookmarked with bleeding hearts. Aurelia dies under "suspicious circumstances" and Becca is the prime suspect. Read the fabulous, awesome, heart-wrenching, highly recommended, inspirational love story All My Belongings by Cynthia Ruchti.
"Longings trump belongings any day." Becca Marrow didn't have much in the way of belongings but even worse was her feeling of NOT belonging. When her mother became sick from a soul-stripping and terminal illness called ALS, not only did it eventually take her mother's life but it also took Becca's childhood as she knew it. Just when Becca didn't think her life could get any worse, one life-altering act has her hiding from the past that threatens to destroy her. Eventually Becca learns that no amount of distance or lies can help her hide from a past full of heartache and shame but that it's in acceptance that determines who you'll be tomorrow. "She laid Aurelia's Bible on the comforter on her bed. The Comforter on the comforter. Someone should paint a picture of that." All My Belongings is one of the best books I have read in a long time. Becca, being a caregiver more than once throughout this book really spoke to the heart of me as a caregiver myself. While caring for a sick loved one can be an arduous task, this book really magnified the beauty of it also. It really helped me see areas where I could improve, especially when I lack patience after long hours of taking care of my mother. It's a very heart-wrenching story practically from the very beginning but there are moments of beauty and laughter, too. While you will need tissues you'll also find yourself smiling when least expected. "Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands." ~Isaiah 49:16 This book is about so many things. It's about finding love even in the things that seem burdensome. Learning to forgive when your life had been shattered. Being a victor and not a victim. Finding hope when you feel there is none. Realizing that, even though you feel like you don't belong, you have always belonged with the One that has loved you since before you were born. This book is so beautifully written and the little spots that brought a smile to my face were dispersed perfectly throughout the story to relieve the emotional tug on my heart strings. "Guacamole - Some things are better after they've been pulverized." The main characters were amazing and the storyline couldn't have been more perfect. I enjoyed being a part of their life's and will take many Blessings with me. It also contains a little suspense and mystery which I am a fan of. I am so glad I read this book. If you're a caregiver you will appreciate this story very much and it will Bless you many times over. If you have ever had a feeling of not belonging or feeling lost you will love this story and be Blessed by it. But you don't have to be either to love this story. It will speak to the heart in ways that will leave you feeling energized and inspired to be every thing God made you to be. I very highly recommend it to anyone that just loves a great inspirational book! "Time is short. Love is forever. Use both well." Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for my honest review and no monetary compensation was received.
Stirring. Tender. Grace-filled, Poignant. These words describe Cynthia Ruchti's novels and particularly her latest release, All My Belongings. Fully expecting to be engrossed, I was nevertheless unprepared for how deeply touched I was by this exquisitely crafted tale. As a master artist brings a canvas to life with an abundance of color, Ruchti skillfully touches on an array of life issues in this story, issues which on the surface might seem unrelated but which all speak to the heart's deepest longing. And while some authors might focus on message to the exclusion of story, Ruchti avoids that by creating compelling characters, a bit of intrigue, and a series of unfolding events that will make you pause and consider what you would do in such a situation. I don't think I've ever wanted to hug a character as much as I've wanted to hug Becca. And Isaac. And Geneva. I may have to read the book all over again! If you only read one book this summer, let it be All My Belongings! It will stay with you long after you turn the final page. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book from Abingdon Press & Litfuse Publicity as part of a blog tour. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
I've never been one to lie or hide the truth. I simply can't do it. But what if I had to? What if I were the daughter of an infamous person that I couldn't bear to be compared to - that wouldn't be fair to be compared to? I might be tempted to do the same thing Becca Morrow did. Changing her name didn't seem like it would be that much of a big deal. Change it legally and people couldn't - nay, wouldn't - lump you with your Kevorkian-like father. But, sd Sir Walter Scott said so eloquently, "oh what a tangle web we weave, when we first practice to deceive." And things can't help but unravel for poor Becca. I very very much enjoyed this novel. There were some hard-hitting questions of morality, forgiveness, making rash judgments because of someone's family connections that really make you stop and consider how you yourself treat others in hard situations. Things that make you question if you could do the same as Becca. Or would you be more like Isaac and Geneva? Or Tony? This is a read slowly type of book. One that will give you plenty of things to pause and reflect on as you turn the pages. *My thanks to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinions. I was not required they be positive.*
Sometimes all we want is to escape from our pasts. Not necessarily because of something we have done that we are trying to forget but often times something our parents have done, allow that kind of connection to follow us based on the fact we are their children. When Jayne Dennagee turned her father in for killing her mother, she hoped she was doing the right thing. After her mother was diagnosed with ALS, her father believed he was helping her along by putting her out of her misery of suffering from the terminal effects of the disease, but it would be something that would haunt both of their lives for years to come. As her father was placed behind bars, Jayne had to find a place to begin again where no one would no her name or what her father had done. But it seems that no place is too far away. The first thing she needed to do was lose her name and with the help of the internet and a couple hundred dollars she could at least gain a new identity for now. Good thing that her friend Geneva has the perfect job lined up for her. She offers her the opportunity to put her nursing skills to work, caring for her dying sister. She is residing in the home she shares with her son, Issac Hughes, a commercial real estate broker who simply doesn't have the time or patience to deal with the effects of Alzheimer's and continue to work. It pains him how one moment his mother will have a few lucid moments and remember him and other times, he is as much as a stranger as the temporary workers who care for his mother. He is more than thrilled when his Aunt Geneva recommends Becca Morrow, Jayne's new identity, to help care for his ailing mother. Only Becca's personality does more than win over his mother, she imbeds herself in his heart no matter how much he tries to fight it. But it's his best friend Tony, a police detective that believes that Becca is hiding more than secrets about where she lives and her life before coming to care for Issac's mother. Is is possible to that just changing your name won't be enough? Will her past come back to haunt her in ways she never dreamed before and arrive right back where she started? Only time will tell. I received All My Belongings by Cynthia Ruchti compliments of Litfuse Publicity and Abingdon Press for my honest review. I did not receive any monetary compensation for a favorable review and the opinions found here are strictly my own. This is a novel about the effects of guilt that are not the fault of the characters in the story yet they impact their lives nonetheless. It shows how damaging those can be depending on their severity and how each of them cope. From Jayne dealing with her father's murderous past, while Issac struggles with wanting to care for his mother, but finding himself unable to deal with the effects of the diseases that trample over what feelings he has for his mother from the past to where he finds himself at presently. It is a novel to healing, finding forgiveness and coming to terms with pasts that we can't change but need to deal with before moving forward. I give this one a 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Cynthia Ruchti’s book All My Belongings is a book you will want to read. It has characters you will want to get to know and situations you or someone you know has faced. All of us want to know we belong somewhere or to someone. The story will speak to your heart. The story follows the main character as she leaves what is familiar to find a new life far away from what was home. The shame she was running from wasn’t even her own. She was fleeing her past, but it was a past that would follow her unless she took drastic measures to change who she was. What her father did haunted her in her present life and seemed to project itself into her future. Would she ever be free? How would Becca ever feel like she belonged? She had lost everything in her past and finally when she starts to let down her guard to trust again, events happen that make her want to run again. As she battles to put it all behind her and to look forward, an unexpected request forces her to a place where she must choose between bitterness or forgiveness. She chooses to be free even though the choice is hard and changes her future again. Throughout the story, through all its twists and turns, its hurts and disappointments, a foundation of faith is what holds the characters together. Their strengths are found when they seek God’s will. Their hope is renewed when they learn to trust and then act from that faith. I highly recommend this book because it touches the heart as well as challenging the will. We all have choices to make that will affect our future and others, too. The themes of adoption, family discord, care giving, and wondering how we belong will resonate with many. The cloud of grace that is over all of it will reassure and give peace and hope.
As this book opens you are going to feel your heart bleeding for Jayne Dennagee, a girl who has never felt wanted by her parents, and now is fleeing her past. How would you like to be Jack Kervorkian’s daughter that is how Jayne feels, and she is responsible for bringing her father to justice? Jayne does have one bright light in her life, Geneva Larkin who to me turned out to be a substitute Mother, one she desperately needed. Through her, and a lot of courage and help from God, she travels to California to hopefully take a job caring for Auerila, Geneva’s sister. Jayne is now Becca Morrow, and she wants to shed her whole identity of being Jayne, and any link to her father. What a caring and loving person Becca is, you’ll enjoy her relationship with Aurila, and of course Isaac Hughes. Isaac had reservations about Becca taking care of his mother, but when Aurila immediately accepted her, it will make you chuckle, his fears vanished. Life becomes rather nice and safe, and you feel hopeful that she is finally in a secure and loving environment, that is when things begin to change. How was it possible that now Becca is a person of interest in the death of her elderly, and very sick charge, Aurila? Come along and find out what happens to Becca and Isaac, will her past catch up with her, sure looks like it. While I couldn’t stop reading, a real page-turner, I felt like the book ended, and then picked up again. Yes, I enjoyed the rest of the read, but was wondering where we were going, and I kept reading, with some very big surprises and changes that kept happening, sure glad I kept going! Enjoy! I received this book through Litfuse Publicity Book Tours, and was not required to give a positive review.
All My Belongings is another Ruchti home run! Becca's emotions are so spot-on. The hope revealed and the restoration of faith will have you reaching for a tissue. That's what I love about Cynthia Ruchti's books. She always makes me chuckle and cry. You can't get any better than that!