Ivy Darling can’t have children of her own, and her husband Nick’s resentment is forcing them apart. And while Ivy has the support and love of her large, close-knit family, Nick’s family has never welcomed her into the fold.When the three children next door are abandoned by their mother, Ivy and Nick take them in for the night. One night becomes several, and suddenly Ivy and Nick find themselves foster parents to the only African-American kids in the town of Copper Cove, Maine. As Ivy grows more attached to the children, Nick refuses to accept their eclectic household as a permanent family. Just as Ivy begins to question whether or not she wants to save her emotionally barren marriage, Nick begins to discover how much Ivy and the children mean to him. But is his change of heart too little, too late?
Read an Excerpt
All Right Here
A Darling Family Novel
By Carre Armstrong Gardner, Sarah Mason
Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2014 Carre Armstrong Gardner
All rights reserved.
Nick was going to hate his birthday gift. Even as she taped down the ribbon and set the wrapped package on the kitchen table, Ivy Darling was already sure of this. It was a book of Mark Strand's poetry, and although she had gotten her husband a book of poetry every birthday for the six years they had been married, he had yet to open the front cover of one of them. That did not stop her from hoping, nor from appropriating the books for her own collection after a decent waiting period. Gifts, she thought, sometimes said more about the giver than the receiver. When you gave something you loved and thought beautiful, you were inviting another person into your world. You were saying, Here is something that brings me joy. I want to share that joy with you. She couldn't help it if her husband had never been all that much into joy sharing.
To be fair, it was also important to give something the other person actually wanted. With this in mind, Ivy had bought Nick a year's membership to the Copper Cove Racquet and Fitness Club, which he would love, as well as a bathrobe, which he needed.
She would give him all three gifts when he got home from work, before they went to his parents' house for dinner. She did not want him to unwrap the things she had chosen in front of his mother, who would be hurt if her own gifts were upstaged. Nor did she want to give them in front of Nick's sisters, who would diminish them by being bored with everything.
She found the broom and swept up the scraps of wrapping paper, then emptied the dustpan into a plastic shopping bag and carried it to the back porch. The five o'clock sunlight flashed off the windows of the vacant house next door, making her squint. The place had been empty as long as she and Nick had lived here. It was a depressing sore on the pretty neighborhood: the house bleached and shabby in the summer sunshine; the grass growing high against the warped and splintered front steps, unstirred by human movement. A faded For Rent sign sagged in one window. She turned her back on it and went inside.
Ivy was sprinkling chopped nuts on top of the iced birthday cake when she heard Nick's car in the driveway. She met him at the door with the remains of the frosting and a kiss.
"What's this?" he said, frowning at the sticky bowl.
"It's your birthday icing. Did you have a good day?"
He stepped around her and set his briefcase under the hall table. "It was all right. What are you doing?"
"Making your cake. We're going to your parents' for dinner, remember?"
He ran a hand through his thick hair. "I forgot. I was hoping to go for a run. What time do we have to be there?"
"Six o'clock. I wanted you to open your presents here first."
He went through to the kitchen and began washing his hands, eyeing her over the top of his glasses. "You're not wearing that to my parents' house, are you?"
Ivy looked down at her T-shirt. It was yellow, with a picture of half a cup of coffee over the words Half Full. Below that, her faded cutoff shorts ended in ragged hems. "What's wrong with what I'm wearing?"
"You look like a slob."
She gave him a gritty smile. "You say the nicest things."
"I'm only saying it for your own sake. Don't you have anything with a little shape to it?"
"Yes, but it wouldn't be nearly as comfortable."
"Come on, Ivy."
"All right, I'll change before we go. But if we're going to be on time, you have to open your presents now."
He dried his hands and turned to survey the packages on the table. "What'd you get me?"
"A present you'll love, a present you need, and a present you'll learn to love."
"Hmmm ...," he said, pretending to think. "A Porsche, a Porsche, and a book of poetry."
"Close. Come on, you have to open them to find out."
She sat down across from him while he opened the packages. She had been right on all scores. He was indifferent to the poetry, satisfied with the bathrobe, and pleased with the gym membership.
"There's no excuse for me now," he said, pulling his wallet from his back pocket and tucking the envelope into it. "I'll be in shape before you know it." Nick, who was already in great shape, was the only person Ivy knew who thrilled to the prospect of more self-discipline.
"You look great just the way you are," she said, standing and kissing him on the top of his head. "But if you want to half kill yourself in the gym five days a week, knock yourself out. We should probably leave in fifteen minutes, unless we want to give your mother an ulcer."
"Okay. Just ... don't forget to change your clothes."
Her smile felt grittier this time but she did as he said, reminding herself that he was only trying to protect her from his mother, who had a finely tuned radar for her daughter-in-law's every shortcoming, fashion or otherwise.
* * *
Nick's parents lived across town, never a long drive even at the time of day considered rush hour in bigger cities. For three-quarters of the year, Copper Cove was small even by Maine standards so that now, in June, when the tourist season had filled the beach houses and hotels along the water, the town still did not feel crowded. Cars moved lazily along High Street, pulling in at Cumberland Farms for gas and at Blue Yew Pizza or Salt Flats Seafood for supper. Traffic, Ivy was sometimes surprised to realize, was just not something you ever thought about here.
At Nick's parents' house, his sister Tiffany met them at the door. "Oh, it's you."
"We thought we might show up," Ivy said. "You know, since it's Nick's birthday party and all."
"Happy birthday," Tiffany said grudgingly. "Everyone else is already here. The guys are watching the Red Sox game with Daddy." She aimed this bit of news at Nick. "And Mumma's in the kitchen," she added, a clear hint that Ivy should join her mother-in-law there and not join her sisters- in-1 aw at whatever they were doing.
They followed Tiffany through to the kitchen, where Nick's mother, Ruby, was emptying fish market bags into the sink.
"Oh, wow, lobster," Ivy said. "Thanks for having a birthday, Nick."
"Nicholas!" cried his mother, turning from the sink and drying her hands on a towel. "Happy birthday, sweetheart. Thirty-two years old!" She tipped her cheek up for a kiss, smoothed down the sleeves of his shirt, and straightened his collar. Ivy had an image of a plump, pretty wasp buzzing around a pie at a picnic.
She set her cake carrier on the sideboard. "I brought the cake."
"Wonderful." Ruby brushed imaginary lint from Nick's shirtfront. "What kind is it?"
"Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting."
Ruby turned from Nick and eyed the cake as though Ivy had said it was made of sand and seaweed. "Oh ...," she faltered. "I was afraid one cake wouldn't be enough for all of us, so I did ask Jessica to make a cheesecake to go along with it." She smiled damply at her son. "You know how Nick loves cheesecake."
Ivy felt her nostrils flare. As a matter of fact, Nick did not love cheesecake. He preferred carrot cake. It had been one of life's long lessons, however, that objection was always futile with her mother-in-law. She felt her mouth twitch in a rictus grin. "Can I help with dinner?" she managed to choke out.
"You might set the table. We'll use the good china. The cloth is on the ironing board in the laundry room. You'll have to put the leaves in the table, but Nick can do that for you."
Nick trotted off to find the extra leaves and Ivy, having retrieved the tablecloth, began counting out forks and knives from the sideboard. The familiar task calmed her. "It's quiet around here," she observed as her mother-in-law added salt to two enormous canners full of hot water on the stove. "Where is everyone?"
"The men are watching television, and the girls are looking at Jessica's new scrapbook."
Nick had three sisters. His family, the Masons, and hers, the Darlings, had always belonged to the same church. In her growing-up years, none of Nick's sisters had seemed to object to Ivy as long as she had been just another girl in youth group. But from the moment Nick had brought her home as his girlfriend, Jessica, Angela, and Tiffany had circled like a pack of she-wolves guarding their kill. Together, they presented a solid, hostile wall designed to keep Ivy on the outside. They whispered with their heads together when she was in the house and stopped talking when she came into a room. They planned sisters' shopping trips in front of Ivy and did not invite her to come along. When Nick and Ivy were engaged and a family friend hinted that the groom's sisters might want to throw the bride a shower, they'd been offended and told Ivy so, with the greatest of umbrage.
Ivy liked people—all kinds of people—and in general, people liked her back. She was unused to having her friendliness met with such stubborn, protracted rejection, and at first she had been bewildered by Nick's sisters' antagonism. "They hate me for no reason," she had once wailed to her own twin sister, Laura. "I can't understand it. It's like being in eighth grade all over again." By the time she and Nick had been married a year, however, she was wiser. Nick's mother doted on him, and this was at the root of her daughters' treatment of Ivy. Nick's sisters were not horrible to her because of anything she personally had done; they simply resented Nick for being their mother's favorite and were punishing Ivy for being his wife. It was a situation Ivy had gotten used to.
More or less.
When the lobsters were ready, Ruby sent her to call the family to the table. She found Jessica, Angela, and Tiffany upstairs, in Angela's old bedroom, looking at what appeared to be paint chips from a hardware store. When they saw Ivy, they stopped talking.
"Yes?" said Angela, who was Nick's middle sister, tucking the paint chips under one leg.
"Your mother says come to the table." She would not give them the satisfaction of being asked what they were doing.
"Thank you, Ivy. Tell Mother we'll be there in a moment." Angela stared at her until she took the hint and went back downstairs to the kitchen.
Nick's father, Harry, had muttered a long, rambling grace and they were all cracking their lobster claws when Angela rapped her fork against her water goblet. "Everybody! Everybody," she called, half-rising from her chair. "Vincent and I have an announcement to make."
"Angela, that goblet is crystal," her mother protested.
"Well, it's an important announcement, Mother."
Some blessed instinct of self-preservation warned Ivy of what Angela was about to say and gave her a heartbeat of time to compose herself for it.
"Vincent and I—" Angela looked around the table in delight—"are pregnant!"
It was evident that Jessica and Tiffany already knew, but that to the rest of them, it was a complete surprise.
"And here's the best part," Angela said, looking at Vincent and gripping his hand atop the tablecloth. "We're having the baby at Christmas! My due date is the twenty-fourth, but the doctor says if I haven't had it by then, he'll induce me so the baby can be born on Christmas Day. Won't that be so much fun?"
"Tell them how you planned it, Ange!" Tiffany said.
Angela looked around, ready to implode with pride. "Okay, ready for this? We knew we wanted to have the baby at Christmas, right? Because ... so meaningful. Like Jesus. And obviously that meant we would need to get pregnant in March. But I didn't want to get really gross and fat while I was pregnant. So last January I went on this diet—"
"I remember," said Ruby, frowning. "I didn't approve. You're thin enough as it is."
"Right." Angela snorted. "I thought so too, because that's what everybody tells me? But then I thought, Just wait until nine months from now. So I went on this diet and got down to a size four, which was my goal, and then we got pregnant. Now it's just gotten warm enough to go to the beach, and ... look!" She stood up and turned sideways, smoothing her T-shirt down over her stomach, and Ivy saw what she had missed before. A small but very definite baby bump.
"So ... showing, right? But still cute!" Angela beamed around at them.
Ivy stared back. She felt powerless over her own facial expression and could only hope she didn't actually look as though she wanted to vomit all over her lobster tail.
Angela was impervious to disapproval. She bubbled on. "You should see my maternity swimsuit. It's so cute! And by having the baby in December, I'll totally have time to get back in shape by next beach season!"
Her husband, Vincent, a caustic CPA who sipped black coffee as incessantly as most people breathe oxygen, said, "Tell them about the nursery." It turned out that the paint chips Angela and her sisters had been looking at were for the nursery, which would be done in a Beatrix Potter theme....
It went on and on. The problem with Angela and Vincent reproducing, Ivy thought bitterly, was that they would create another person every bit as narrow and self-absorbed as themselves. Sometimes the world—or at least Nick's family—did not seem large enough to hold another person like that.
Nick had little to say on the drive home.
"The woman from Family Makers e-mailed me yesterday," Ivy said at last, breaking the silence. "She asked if we would consider foreign adoption." She looked at her hands but watched Nick from the corner of her eye.
He kept his own eyes on the road and did not answer her.
Which, she reflected, her heart lying in her chest as cold and heavy as one of Ruby's lobsters, was more or less an answer in itself.
* * *
It had been an especially good summer so far, with hot blue days subsiding to brief rain showers nearly every evening, and the garden showed it. The colors were reaching toward their peak, an untidy riot of blossom, which was how Ivy loved it. Along the split-rail fence, the red bee balm and pink tall phlox clashed in a kind of reckless ecstasy. Black-eyed Susans nodded in some faint, unfelt breeze—rogue wildflowers among the more genteel daylilies, gayfeather, and baby's breath. In front of these, the cheery yellow cinquefoil bush rustled and the hostas waved their pale-purple arms in greeting.
The afternoon was alive with the hum and drone of insects hidden in the tall grasses beyond the flower bed. In the clean, baking heat, the brilliance of her garden was as refreshing as a glass of cold water. Ivy had planted all of it and knew each of the flowers by heart, like old and well-loved friends.
Her sister Sephy was finally home from college and had called to say she was coming over in the afternoon. Sephy had stayed on in Ohio an extra month to take a summer school course and to babysit some professor's kids, and Ivy had missed her.
Ivy was up to her elbows in an azalea bush when the familiar dark-green Corolla pulled into the driveway. She shaded her eyes with a gloved hand, extracted herself from the bush, and hurried over.
"Sephy! How was the babysitting?"
Her red-haired younger sister got out of the car with some difficulty and hugged her—a soft, comforting hug with no thought of the dirt Ivy was undoubtedly leaving on her clothes. "Fine, thanks. And it was nannying, if you please, not babysitting."
"Oh, excuse me. What's the difference?"
"You get paid more for nannying. And you get to go to Cedar Point with the family."
"Sounds like a good gig. How about an iced coffee?"
"It's the only reason I came over."
They went into the house, and Sephy found the pitcher of coffee in the refrigerator while Ivy washed her hands. "Are you exhausted?" Ivy asked over the sound of the running water.
"Completely. I worked on Tuesday and took my last exam. On Wednesday I drove halfway home and spent the night with a friend in Rochester. I drove the rest of the way yesterday. Kids, exams, then eight hours in the car each day. It's been a long week." She yawned. "Are those brownies?"
"Help yourself." Ivy opened the plastic container and handed it to her. "What are your summer plans?"
Sephy ticked them off on her fingers: "I'm taking two classes online—s tatistics and nursing management; I'm working as a CNA at the hospital; and for the next four weeks, I'm giving piano and voice lessons for the youth program in Quahog."
"Wow, no rest for the wicked. Why are you taking summer classes?"
Sephy bit into a brownie and rolled her eyes in bliss. "They're about half the price if I take them online, for one thing," she said around a mouthful of chocolate. "For another, it'll loosen up my schedule next year. Not much, but a little. They say the two years of clinicals are brutal, so I may as well get ahead if I can."
"Any thoughts about what you want to do after graduation? I mean, I know it's still two years off...."
Excerpted from All Right Here by Carre Armstrong Gardner, Sarah Mason. Copyright © 2014 Carre Armstrong Gardner. Excerpted by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc..
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
The Nutshell: Family. Ivy Darling is the main character. This book is centered around her. Her struggling relationship with her husband, her foster kids, her family, her in-laws and finding her voice amidst all of them. The pro's: I loved this book. It wasn't suspenseful in the least, but you wanted everything to turn out for the best by the end. And it doesn't wrap up with a nice bow. The word that kept floating through my head while reading this was: messy. Messy relationships with family. Messy results of choices made that weren't the best. But very real messiness. This book exposed, I think, how the majority of families and marriages are. Messy. It was very down to earth and real. The con's: None. Recommendation: This book would be great for anyone who enjoys reading. A light read for more in-depth readers. A book full of emotions and real-world scenarios for the realistic reader and for the reader who likes a good story.
I enjoyed the concept of this book. Foster parents play a large part in children(s)' lives growing up. They provide a loving and caring support system when the bloodline system is lacking or has failed. This is a relate-able storyline for a fiction novel. I look forward to reading the rest of the books in this series.
Loved the book. Bought the second in the series, can't wait to start reading!
330 pages with excerpt of book two at end. While not a cliff hanger, book one has a dangling threads. I paid $2.99 for it and it was a very entertaining, clean read. I consider it Christian fiction. I bought book two, it had 180 pages and cost $10.50. That is more than I like to pay for an ebook, but I wanted to know what happened to some of the characters. I discovered book one needs to be read before two, or the reader will not know what is going on in a lot events. It does not have as many religious mentions and the author is obsessed with Amy's weight problem, which is the primary focus of the book. Book two also left a lot of untied threads. There is not a book three at this time. Although I enjoyed both of these books very much, I would not purchase another book in this series, because it too, would propably be incomplete and expensive. For ages 16 and up. AD
Would like to read next book in the series....
Carre Armstrong Gardner's intimate portrayal of a marriage in jeopardy is mature and even-handed and, despite the subject matter, joyful. She draws us into the every day lives of her characters with a compelling sense of importance and anticipation. The small events that we all experience add up to significance and purpose in her character's lives. Her writing is sensitive and her dialogue is realistic. She has a competent grasp of language and literature and skillfully weaves that obvious love into her book. The setting is dear to me, an exiled Mainer! A worthy addition to your reading list.
Loved this book by Carre Armstrong Gardner! Ivy & Nick are a young couple living in a small town in Maine, close to both families. While Nick's family has never really embraced Ivy as part of their family and takes every chance to remind her, Ivy's family is very close-knit and will do anything for any family member, whether born, married or adopted into the family. When Ivy discovers the new neighbor kids waiting outside their house in the heat she invites them in and they stay for "just one night". One night turns into months when their mother cannot be located and Ivy and Nick embark on the journey to becoming foster parents for the kids. Even though they don't share the same skin color Ivy loves them like the children she can never have. It takes Nick a little longer to accept the children and he resents his wife in the process for a past choice she made which prevents the couple from having biological children of their own. Nick and Ivy's relationship is drifting and when a pottery teacher shows Ivy special attention she is tempted but comes to realize that everything she needs is already all right here. I loved this book about Ivy and Nick and their families and the choice they made that changed their lives forever.
All Right Here is a great book. It revolves around a couple who can't have children. They take in three children who are abandoned next door. Family dynamics play an strong role in the book. Extended family are included in raising the children. The problems that arise and are solved along the way are the ones faced by any family. It is an enjoyable read.I can not wait for the next one in the series to come out.I received this book from the Book Club Network in exchange for my honest opinion.
Every day can't be a birthday or anniversary. When we are plodding through life, day by day, isn't that part of life too? The author weaves an interesting story through family conflict and issues of abandonment.
Ivy and Nick have always wanted children, but Ivy has found that she is unable to get pregnant. And Nick is beginning to resent her for the choice she made in the past. Then one day when arriving home, Ivy sees the next door neighbor’s children sitting on the porch, locked out of their home. They have no idea where their mother is. So Ivy invites them to her house to get cleaned up and to eat. Life for the Darling family is about to change in ways that Ivy and Nick could never imagine. “All Right Here” by Carre Armstrong Gardner is a wonderful Christian novel. As you read, you feel as though you are a part of the family, sharing their many trials and watching as God sees them through each one. The story shows how God always gives you the things you need, and does it in ways you would never suspect. I did receive a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
I enjoyed this book. It was not exactly what I was expecting but in the end I was definitely looking forward to reading future books about the Darling family. This book is mostly about one member of the Darling family, Ivy, and her life. It starts out with many details of her less than perfect marriage as well as her insecurities about who she is and what lies ahead in her future. Ivy was definitely not one of my favorite characters as far as the books that i have read. But in some ways this helped me to understand the perspective of other characters in the book. It could also have been just the author's voice that did not appeal to me. Ivy's thoughts and actions at times made her a character I did not enjoy reading about, however the story as a whole continued to draw me in and really fed my desire to help children in the same ways that Ivy does in the book. One of the main things I also enjoyed about this book was the way the author was honest about real life issues and in some ones even blunt in her approach of writing conversations between characters. She was not afraid to address judgmental people, weight issues, affairs, racial issues, as well as write about many characters that all have their own unique set of issues and bad decisions. I think this book taught some important lessons about love and relationships as well as reaching out to others and dealing with difficult people and situations. I definitely look forward to future books by this author and I hope that she will continue writing books about this family that will express a well thought out story just as this one does. It was a unique story and had unique characters and was written with a unique voice which at times is hard to find in Christian fiction.
All Right Here is a fantastic debut for Carre Armstrong Gardner. I really enjoyed it. I just absolutely loved Ivy. She is one of those characters that felt like one of my best friends. The book dealt with real life issues and also had bits of humor. I cannot wait to read the second book of this series. I highly recommend this book. 5 plus stars.
This was a beautiful story about how precious children are and how there are so many in need of loving families. I loved the plot, and I was so glad that Ivy decided to help the children. I could not wait to read the end of the book to see if she was going to pick them or her marriage. Nick was a character that grew on me. I could understand his reasons, but when kids fall into your lap like that it is divine intervention. I loved the Darling family dynamics, and coming from a big Italian family myself, and I really enjoyed their over involved, nose sticking! I am giving this book a 5/5. I was given a copy to review from The Book Club Network Inc., however all opinions are my own.
The first in the Darling Family Series, our heroine Ivy has been married to Nick for six years and has yet to be truly included into his family - or really, into * his* heart, either. Ivy is kindhearted and generous with a little quirky thrown in. Nick is solid and dependable with a bit of the type A. :-) A turning point in their relationship comes when the three kids next door are abandoned by their mother, and Ivy invites them in without hesitation. What's more surprising is that Nick, although not exactly enthusiastic, is agreeable. As time goes on they officially become foster parents; all the while swirling around them are difficult relationships, God, substance abuse, affairs, racism, heartache, and growth. One of the best fiction books I've read in a long time, this debut novel by our author is real, funny, touching, moving, didn't have a false ending, and made me think. Perhaps more importantly, it made me feel. The characters are interesting and relatable. The story drew me in so well that I finished it off in only a few hours, and it left me wishing the next one wasn't more than a year out. I can't recommend this book enough!
All Right Here is a family drama about the Darling Family. Leander and Jane are the dad and mom to their five grown children: David, the twins Laura and Ivy, Sephy, and Amy. This particular book deals the most with Ivy and her husband Nick. Nick and Ivy have been married for 6 years and Ivy is unable to have children. Something she thought that she and Nick had overcome. Unfortunately, Nick has not let that go and their marriage has suffered through the years. When their new neighbor abandons her three children, she and Nick take the kids in for what at first was supposed to be a few nights. But as the search continues for the neglectful mother, Ivy opens her heart to the children who have not really had a very good life. DeShaun at 14 has always tried to shelter his little sister Jada who is 9 and his little brother Hammer who is 6. Nick feels it his Christian duty to help these children but he insists that they are not their kids. Under the foster care of both Nick and Ivy all three children bloom and find hidden talents. However, as the days turn into weeks and then months, Ivy realizes her marriage is not going to change and temptation looms on the horizon. When Nick notices Ivy has cooled in her love for him, he realizes that he just might lose her and the three children who ended up becoming more important to him than he thought they would. Laura, Ivy’s twin, is the secondary story in this book. Her story also deals with some difficult subjects. This book is filled with real life problems and I did enjoy getting to know the Darling family. I really liked how they still had Thursday night dinners with almost the whole Darling clan and getting to peek in on their family celebrations. I enjoyed this author’s debut book and I look forward to reading more about the Darling family. I received the book from The Book Club Network (TBCN) and the opinions are my own.
I really enjoyed this book and am looking forward to reading the rest of the series. I loved the big cast of characters and the undercurrent of faith. I especially liked seeing the growth of the two main characters, Nick and Ivy. I'm anxious to see how Gardner grows the other characters in future books in the series. Overall, I think she could've developed the characters a little further, but maybe that'll happen as we get further along in the series.
All Right Here is the first in the Darling Family series. The Darling Family is a family of five children and this one is mainly centered around Ivy. Ivy and her husband can't have children and there marriage is tenuous. But when the neighbor children need somewhere to live they take them in. But will their marriage end or can they pull it together? I was excited to read this book because I had heard it was like the show Parenthood on TV, which I have watched a few episodes of and enjoyed. And while the book did resemble that in some ways it was slow and disjointed. It seemed we were jumping from one thing to the next with no continuity at all. I really wanted to love this book but I just didn't.
I wasn't certain this was my kind of book. Carre Armstrong Gardner has presented her debut novel about a dysfunctional family struggling to make sense of life. I loved Ivy's family, the Darlings. But I could not stand Nick Mason's clan. Couldn't stand Nick, either, to be completely truthful. Sure, Ivy seemed a bit unusual and quirky, but it was obvious Nick doesn't feel much for his wife: much love, much respect...much anything. It was very difficult to watch a man treat is wife with such coldness and disdain. DeShaun, Jada and Hammer won my heart from the first time I met them, and I was thrilled they had Ivy in their lives. But I had no idea if this mixed race foster family was going to even survive. Carre had obviously crafted an excellent story if it had my emotions so tangled up. By the end of the book, my feelings had changed. I cannot tell you how they changed, or toward whom without spoiling the book. And I'm disgruntled about the ending, because Carre left it wide open for a sequel. Thank heaven a sequel is in the works! Carre Armstrong Gardner is an author to watch, and I'm so grateful to my friends at Tyndale House Publishers for my advance copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. It might not seem as if things are "All Right Here", but you will enjoy the journey. You'll meet some really great characters along the way, and you'll learn a few things about your own family life as well.
I had the privilege of reading All Right Here by Carre Armstrong Gardner. I enjoyed Ivy from the beginning. I loved meeting the entire Darling clan and found the dynamics of both extended families quite interesting. One family considered themselves perfect while being extremely dysfunctional while the other family just was happy to be together but also had hidden problems that needed to be dealt with. I am so glad this isn’t a standalone book but I get the chance to read more about the Darlings and their interesting lives. I really enjoyed Ivy’s mom. She was so down to earth and reminded me of how easy it is to talk to God as a friend, all the time. I love how she cherishes her family and doesn’t take her time with them for granted. I love the way the author depicted the three foster children that Ivy and Nick took in. I put myself right in Ivy’s shoes and could feel her exhaustion and excitement as she fully embraced three children of various ages and needs. Maybe I could relate even more as my kids stagger in the same combination, similar ages. Great book by a new author for me whom I’m so glad I was introduced to, and I can’t wait to read the next book in the series. I was given this book for free in exchange for my honest review.
The Darling Family consists of a diverse group of individuals that encompass what family really looks like, the good, the bad and everything in between. Ivy Darling is in a loveless marriage. She and her husband are polar opposites -- one very neat and orderly the other, carefree with an artist’s heart. Though opposites should attract, Ivy’s marriage is a place of loneliness and sorrow. Until the day she meets three abandoned children. When Ivy and her husband, Nick, agree to help the kids for a night, they have no idea how long a “night” can last. DeShaun, Jada and Hammer have never known the love of a father and mother. They are given not only a chance to experience the love of family but to give love. With their individual talents and abilities, they surprise not only themselves, but their critics as well. Nick’s family is the ultimate in-law nightmare. Not only are they close minded, they are down right nasty to Ivy. Her response is so well scripted though and I absolutely loved her character. The heading on the back cover of the book is a perfect description of All Right Here, “the family you want isn’t always the family you need”. In this story, family means seeing beyond physical and cultural differences to hearts that need one another. This story envelopes so many themes, infertility, adoption, family craziness, walking the Christian walk, abandonment, infidelity, drug and alcohol abuse…yep, pretty much the ingredients of a functioning dysfunctional family. The characters are wonderful and the story truly leaves you wanting to read the next book without delay. All Right Here is the first of Carre Armstrong Gardner’s books that I’ve read and I absolutely loved it. I’m not a fast reader, but I finished this book in two days. I can’t wait for the next in the Darling Family series. I received this book from the Book Club Network and Tyndale Publishers in exchange for my honest opinion.
Family, Love, and Drama, So Well Written. This book was hard to put down. The characters were so real that I was rooting for them and hoping they would realize how to relate to each other. The family dynamics made me laugh and cry with empathy. All of the characters were well done, and each of the kids was especially loveable in a unique way. Even though it seemed dropped in her lap, the situation helped the main character grow and mature, along with her husband. I am very impressed with everyone’s reactions to their challenges. The humor was gentle and the story was clean. Milo was a great character. I enjoyed this very much.
About the Book: Ivy Darling can't have children of her own, and her husband Nick's resentment is forcing them apart. And while Ivy has the support and love of her large, close-knit family, Nick's family has never welcomed her into the fold.When the three children next door are abandoned by their mother, Ivy and Nick take them in for the night. One night becomes several, and suddenly Ivy and Nick find themselves foster parents to the only African-American kids in the town of Copper Cove, Maine. As Ivy grows more attached to the children, Nick refuses to accept their eclectic household as a permanent family. Just as Ivy begins to question whether or not she wants to save her emotionally barren marriage, Nick begins to discover how much Ivy and the children mean to him. But is his change of heart too little, too late? About the Author: Carre writes from the big small town of Portland, Maine, where she's the mom of 3 teenagers and 2 dogs she would rather not own. (Only the dogs, not the teenagers.) From 2007 to 2010, she and her family lived in Russia, studying the language and doing humanitarian work. Like most writers, Carre grew up with her nose in a book. The heroines who most informed her were smart, creative, independent thinkers like Anne Shirley, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Nancy Drew, and Cherry Ames. Nancy proved that being a girl detective might just be the coolest career ever, but Cherry taught her that nursing was more practical. Carre compromised by becoming a nurse and marrying a sleuth. Nearly every flat surface in Carre's home has books on it. The stories she loves most are those about the ordinary lives of ordinary people; she thinks of every life as a fascinating drama. Isn't each one of us the hero of our own story? She'd love for you to drop her a line and tell her yours! My Review: Unable to have children of her own, Ivy Darling's marriage seemed to be falling apart. But when someone new moves into the neighborhood and leaves her children alone for several hours, it sparks something in Ivy. She had to be the saving grace for those children. Nick wasn't so quick to come to their aid, he felt that they were too chaotic for him. Ivy and Nick are having a hard time with it because this may be more than temporary, considering that their mother is missing. Each of their family members are split on the whole idea of these children coming into the family. Ivy's family is fine with it, but Nick's not so much. There is concern there because the children are black. Ivy feels like she is working against the current and she also feels her marriage will be in jeopardy as a result. The author manage to draw me in to feel so sincerely sad for Ivy and the three children that she felt were placed in her life for her to mother. I didn't want the story to end, I hope that we hear more about this family in future books. The storyline was a good, strong one full of real life problems and the author did an amazing job of tying it all together. **Disclosure** This book was sent to me free of charge for my honest review from Book Fun.
Fascinating story about a married couple without children whose marriage was freezing into just icy politeness with the possibility of divorce just around the corner. Living next door to Ivy and Nick Darling were three African American children whose mother suddenly locked them out of their house and left, forever abandoning them. Ivy invited Jada, De Shaun and Hammer into her house where she bathed and fed them, got the police to break into their house and get what little there was of their clothes, brought pull-ups for Hammer who had been wetting his pants and then helped him learn to use the toilet, talked to social services about foster parenting, and gave up her job. How the children changed Ivy and Dick’s marriage, caused them to rethink their friendships with the opposite sex, and affected their relationship with their tightly knit family made this book extraordinary. This is a must read book for anyone interested in family dynamics and encouragement for all who find themselves in what seems to be a dying marriage.
What makes this book is the characters. Although the Darlings are all part of the same family, there all have their own distinctive problems, strengths, and personalities. Gardner's description of Ivy and Nick and their marriage is spot on in terms of describing a relationship in which there isn't any overt abuse or neglect, but one in which the partners are not fulfilling each other's needs. What I thought was so great, was how Gardner established the nuances of their relationship at the very beginning through their interactions. It was a great example of showing, without a lot of narration, the relationship between two people. This book is about relationships - what makes them live and what makes them die. I think anyone reading this book can see something of themselves in at least one of the characters. Gardner explores so many different types of relationships, spousal, family, in-laws, parents, children, and friends. She doesn't shy away from characters making really bad choices and having to deal with the consequences. She shows really great insight into people, the hurts, and what unforgiveness can create. Although the characters are the shining draw to the book for me, the plot also has a lot to offer. Gardner offers lessons to readers in such a gentle way. She demonstrates the slippery slope of drinking, married people befriending unmarried people of the opposite sex, and withholding forgiveness. What is so great about this book is that it isn't preachy at all, it paints a realistic picture of the consequences of those choices. This book is one of those that demonstrates ordinary people walking the walk of their faith day by day, in every circumstance. I love these kind of books. It helps me to see realistic people that make mistakes, sometimes truly dreadful, but continue to walk in their faith. It is inspiring and encouraging. If you love slice-of-life books, this is the one for you. I loved every minute of this book and can't wait to read another Darling family book! I received a complimentary copy of this book from Net Galley in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.
What a wonderful, sweet book! Ivy, from a large family with 4 girls and a boy, desperately wants a baby. Unfortunately, the adoption wait lists are long. But she gets a ready-made family when the 3 African-American children next door are abandoned by their mother. Her husband upfront confesses that he does not love them but will do the right thing; her family readily accepts them; and her in-laws reject them, not only because of their skin color but also because they are not their “own”. To add insult to injury, Ivy’s sister-in-laws keep getting pregnant and are continuously rude to her. This books deals with mostly ordinary life – family dynamics, challenging teenagers, fidelity in marriage, alcoholism, and balancing priorities. It all takes place in a quiet Maine town. Since my own teenage son enjoys cooking I enjoyed watching Deshaun figure out cooking – the only problem was I didn’t have the ingredients to make some of his food but I noticed I made a plain grilled cheese sandwich for myself the very next day! I really enjoyed All Right Here and look forward to reading the stories of the other siblings – and I hope Ivy’s in-laws wake up and see their self-centered behavior. I received this book from TBCN in return for my honest opinion.