Link Whitman has settled into the role of bachelor without ever intending to. Now he’s stuck in a dead-end job and, as the next Whitman wedding fast approaches, he is the last one standing. The pressure from his sisters’ efforts to play matchmaker is getting hard to bear as Link pulls extra shifts at work, and helps his parents at the Chicory Inn.
All her life, Shayla Michaels has felt as if she straddled two worlds.
Her mother's white family labeled her African American father with names
Shayla didn't repeat in polite––well, in any company. Her father’s family disapproved as well, though they eventually embraced Shayla as their own. After the death of her mother, and her brother Jerry’s incarceration, life has left Shayla's father bitter, her niece, Portia,
an orphan, and Shayla responsible for them all. She knows God loves them all, but why couldn't people accept each other for what was on the inside? For their hearts?
Everything changes one icy morning when a child runs into the street and
Link nearly hits her with his pickup. Soon he is falling in love with the little girl’s aunt, Shayla, the beautiful woman who runs Coffee’s
On, the bakery in Langhorne. Can Shayla and Link overcome society’s view of their differences and find true love? Is there hope of changing the sometimes-ugly world around them into something better for them all?
About the Author
Deborah Raney’s books have won numerous awards including the RITA, National Readers' Choice Award, HOLT Medallion, the Carol Award, and have twice been Christy Award finalists. She and her husband, Ken, recently traded small-town life in Kansas—the setting of many of Deb's novels—for life in the (relatively) big city of Wichita. Visit Deb on the web at DeborahRaney.com.
Read an Excerpt
Home at Last
By Deborah Raney
Abingdon PressCopyright © 2016 Deborah Raney
All rights reserved.
A thin layer of snow and ice covered the narrowing road, and Link Whitman tapped the brakes to slow his pickup. Police in the little berg of Langhorne, Missouri, were famous for doling out speeding tickets, and Link already had two on his record — which gave new meaning to the premium in insurance premiums.
Running his fingers through unruly curls that could stand a good cut, he leaned to check his reflection in the truck's rearview mirror. His sisters would have given him a hard time if they'd seen.
Who you primping for, Linkie? Must be a girl!
He grinned to himself, hearing their high-pitched voices as clearly as if his sisters were in the seat behind him.
He loved his sisters, but they could annoy the tar out of him too. And ever since Bree had gotten engaged, the Whitman women had upped the ante bigtime. After Bree and Drew's wedding next month, he'd be the last Whitman standing, and the pressure was on. All his siblings had kids too, and no doubt Bree would want to start a family right away. Yep, he was a slacker, and his sisters would remind him at every opportunity. Mom would do worse. She'd already tried to set him up with some great-niece of a friend of a friend of a friend.
No thank you. He could find his own woman. And he'd do it when he was good and ready.
He gave a little snort. Who was he kidding? He'd been good and ready for a long time. But he wasn't going to settle for the first pretty thing that came along. He had standards. Standards too high, according to his sisters.
Well, they'd be happy to know he was on a mission today. A mission involving a woman. He didn't think Mom suspected anything when he'd jumped at the chance to make a bakery run for her this morning. But a certain girl who worked there had caught his eye.
He'd actually met Shayla first at the homeless shelter in Cape Girardeau. He and some buddies from work had done a couple of volunteer projects there last summer, getting the shelter's Internet and office computers set up. He'd pulled into the parking lot at the same time as Shayla and had helped her carry in a stack of boxes from the bakery.
Listening to her snarky banter with the other volunteers and a crazy client they were dealing with, he'd fallen in love with her a little bit that day. Then more than a little, once he got up the courage to talk to her the following week. And the week after that. And the one after that. The shelter's computers had never run so seamlessly. And since he was volunteering his time, he felt only slightly guilty for making excuses to keep "tweaking" their system on the days he knew Shayla would be delivering. And he had made things work better each time he was there. But if someone — say his sisters, or Shayla — wanted to make a case against him for stalking her, they wouldn't have to look too far for evidence.
He didn't care. The more he'd gotten to know Shayla, the more he liked what he saw. Not that she was making it easy. Over bad coffee, compliments of the shelter, they'd practically solved the problems of homelessness, world hunger, and the recent city council elections. They'd also agreed on best doughnut — sour cream cruller — and which houseplants were the easiest to kill — maidenhair fern and fiddle-leaf fig, which Shayla knew from experience and Link could discuss semi-intelligently thanks to his sisters. But he had yet to learn anything really personal about the mysterious Shayla. Unless you counted that she hated her hair — thick, wild curls that weren't quite an Afro, but close ... and cute as all get out, in his opinion. Which she hadn't asked for and he hadn't given.
He'd flirted with her the last couple of times he'd been in the bakery. And if he knew anything at all about women, it seemed the feeling might be mutual. Shayla. He was still working on getting her last name. His mission today: get that name and talk her into a real date. Just coffee. He didn't want to scare her off.
His cell phone chirped from his pocket, and he fished it out. Mom. He tapped the brakes again and answered. "Hey, Mom. What's up?"
"Have you already left the bakery?"
"Nope. Just got into town."
"Oh, good." She breathed a relieved sigh into the phone. "Could you also see if they have any cinnamon rolls? Or maybe a coffee cake? Anything that would feed four guests in the morning? We got a last-minute reservation and I have too many other irons in the fire to be baking."
"Sure. But don't you feel guilty putting the Chicory Inn's reputation on the line like that?" he teased.
"Not one bit. And don't you go trying to change things."
"Don't worry, I'll bail you out. It'll cost you though."
"Ha ha." She tried to sound irked, but Link heard the smile beneath her tone.
"I'm here now," he said as the Coffee's On Bakery came into view. "See you in about twenty minutes."
"You'd better not show up here in twenty minutes. There is no way you can do all that and get back here in twenty minutes, and I happen to know you don't need another speeding ticket."
"What? How did you find —"
Something — a dog? a coyote? — darted into the street in front of him, a blur of brown against the dirty snow paving the street.
He slammed on the brakes, spewing a word his mom would not appreciate.
"Link? What happened? Link?"
His brakes squealed as the pickup skidded, and he held his breath as two tons of steel careened directly toward the anim — Wait! That wasn't a dog. It was a kid!
The brake pedal was already pressed to the floor, but he pushed harder then gave the pedal a frantic pump, his pulse screaming in his ears. Please, God! No!
Somehow his cell phone had ended up in the passenger seat, and he could hear his mother's distant frantic cries. But he had bigger things to worry about. The kid stood frozen in the middle of the street staring up at him through the windshield, mouth agape, her wild curly hair blowing in the wind. She needed to move! Now!
The pickup was in a slow-motion, sideways skid now. There was no time to lose! Adrenaline gushing, he slammed the gearshift into park, threw open his door, and half ran, half slid toward the girl. He scooped her to his chest and rolled with her out of the path of the front fender.
Heart slamming, he watched the truck come to a full stop, tires grinding against the curb. When he could finally catch a breath, he scrambled to his feet with the girl in his arms. She scarcely weighed more than a feather, but she started screaming like a banshee, kicking at his knees with her little brown boots. Sharp-toed boots. Ouch! And while she might be a featherweight, fear had given her the strength of a cornered doe.
"Oww!" He grabbed her legs with his free hand and tried to hold them still while also remaining upright — no easy feat considering the ice.
About that time, a woman came flying out of the bakery, wailing. She stepped off the curb — and instantly bit the dust. Link watched, open-mouthed, as she rolled over and scrambled on all fours on the icy street, looking frantically to where Link was trying to stay on his own feet on a thin sheet of sleet and ice. With this little spitfire still flailing in his arms.
"Stay there!" he yelled, his breath forming puffs of steam in the cold November air. The next vehicle to come by might not see her, and she definitely wasn't taking time to look both ways before crossing the street.
"Portia! Baby? Are you okay?"
He knew that voice. It was Shayla! Her gaze didn't leave the child in Link's arms.
He shifted the little girl to face outward so Shayla could see she was in one piece — despite the blood-curdling screams pouring from the tiny creature. Tucking the girl under one arm like a football — or more like one of those crazy bouncy balls his nephews had — he half skated across the street.
He helped her to her feet with his free hand and started to transfer the little girl to her arms when Shayla began pounding her fists on his chest.
"You could have killed her! You could have killed her!"
He stumbled backward, trying to fend off the mama bear's blows while baby bear continued to thrash in his arms. "Hey, stop! She's okay. She's going to be okay!"
Seeming oblivious to the fact that he held the little girl, Shayla continued screaming at him, then, without warning, she wilted into a puddle at his feet.
He didn't think she'd recognized him yet. She was, understandably, a little out of her mind. It seemed a petty thought considering what had just happened, but he hadn't known she had a kid. Did that change things? Not that it mattered now. Nearly running over a woman's daughter probably wasn't his best pick-up line.
Shayla wept gulping sobs that might have scared him a little more if he hadn't been raised with three drama queens for sisters. Not that Shayla didn't have cause to be upset, but her little girl was obviously fine.
He set the child down on the sidewalk next to her, keeping tight hold on the fur collar of the kid's coat so she didn't escape again. "Hey?" He knelt beside Shayla. "You okay?"
Without looking up, she waved him away, then pulled the little girl onto her lap.
"It's cold out here," Link said. She was in shirtsleeves except for the bib apron that bore the Coffee's On logo. "And that sidewalk is a sheet of ice. Why don't we get you both inside?" He offered his hand.
But she batted it away. "I can get myself inside. I think you've helped enough for one day." She sniffed and looked up at him, topaz-colored eyes blazing. Slowly, recognition dawned in them. "It ... it's you." Her creamy brown complexion went rosy.
"Yes. It's Link." He offered his hand again.
But she ignored it. "Go on about your business. We're fine." She pushed the little girl's corkscrew curls off her forehead and inspected her for injury. The child's hair and skin were a paler shade of brown than Shayla's — almost a muddy blonde — and her eyes were a striking blue-gray. Even so, she was the spitting image of Shayla. The little girl whimpered, but she didn't appear to be bleeding or otherwise harmed. A miracle.
Watching them together, the sequence of events replayed in his mind, and he shuddered, feeling a little weak in the knees himself. "That was a close one."
Shayla pierced him with a look. "Yeah, well ... You might want to think about slowing down next time. You could have killed her."
"So you said." About fifteen times. He narrowed his eyes. "And you might want to think about watching your kid closer next time." He turned toward the street, half wishing he'd held his tongue. But seriously? She was going to blame him? He'd quite possibly saved the kid's life. She should be thanking him.
He turned back at the strident chord in her voice, preparing to get chewed out again.
But she only said, "You're coming for the order for the B&B, right? The Chicory Inn?"
He eyed her. "Yes." Wanna make something of it?
"Your order's ready." She pointed a thumb over her shoulder. "Inside."
"Oh." He curbed the urge to roll his eyes. "Thanks. My mom would've killed me if I forgot." He winced inwardly. Nice choice of words, Whitman. Way to remind her you nearly ran over her daughter and that you're running errands for your mommy.
Shayla struggled to her feet, testing the sidewalk beneath her before lifting the girl into her arms. "Come on in. I'll ring you up."
Did he hear a hint of truce in her tone? "You're sure I'm allowed in your store? After all, I did almost kill your daughter." He couldn't help it. The sarcasm came second nature.
She opened her mouth to say something, but instead, hitched her daughter higher on one hip and opened the door to the bakery.
Shaking his head, Link followed her inside.
The heady scents of coffee, warm cinnamon rolls, and maple icing wafted over them, and Link couldn't keep from inhaling deeply. The mingling of aromas had a calming effect on him.
Shayla set the little girl down at a child's table near the cash register. The stack of coloring books and buckets of crayons and markers on the table looked like a scene from one of his sisters' homes, and the little girl was instantly distracted.
Flecks of ice sparkled in Shayla's wild Afro. She looked gorgeous as ever, even if her complexion now seemed more gray than the creamy mahogany shade he remembered. Behind the counter, she consulted an order pad. "You had two dozen Parker House and a loaf of rye, right?"
"Yes. I guess. Whatever Mom ordered." He didn't have a clue and couldn't remember right now if his life depended on it. No doubt, his mother — He took in a sharp breath. Mom! He'd left her on the phone thinking he'd been in an accident. She'd be frantic.
He reached into his pocket then remembered his cell was still in the truck. At least he hoped it was. "Hang on a sec, would you? My phone ... Be right back."
She barely nodded and went on wrapping the bread.
He risked ruffling the little girl's hair as he went by. She flinched at his touch, but at least she didn't start screaming. Shoot, his ears were still ringing.
He jogged out to the pickup and did a quick walk around, inspecting it much the way Shayla had inspected her daughter. The truck was caked with dirty slush and mud, and the back right tire was scuffed where it had met the curb, but otherwise, no worse for the wear. He considered reparking since the truck had parallel parked itself across two angled parking spaces, but there were plenty of open spots on the street, and he didn't want Shayla to think he was leaving.
After calling his mother and giving her a carefully edited version of the morning's events, he tucked his cell in his pocket and trotted back into the shop.
A white bag with the bakery's logo stamped on the side sat waiting on the counter, a receipt stapled to the side.
He looked at it. It seemed a little high, but he retrieved his wallet from his back pocket and extracted a twenty-dollar bill.
She made change and handed it to him without a word, seeming a little dazed. Well, he was too. He bent to peer into her eyes. "You sure you're okay?"
"I'm fine." She wiped her hands on her apron and came around the counter, peeking at the table where her little girl was bent over a coloring book.
He held up the bag of rolls. "Thanks." He almost felt like he should apologize, even though he'd done nothing wrong, but under the circumstances, he decided it would be best not to press the issue. No sense getting her riled all over again.
He headed out the front door, but halfway to the truck, he remembered the extra cinnamon rolls his mom had requested before all the excitement. Or was it coffee cake? He hurried back inside. "Sorry, I almost forgot! My mom wanted —"
Behind the counter, Shayla stood with her face buried in the skirt of her flour-dusted apron, her shoulders heaving.
Link's heart stopped for the second time that day. "What's wrong?" He looked around for the little girl. She was still coloring, seeming perfectly fine and oblivious to her mother's tears.
Shayla quickly turned away, dabbing at her face with the hem of the apron. But not before Link saw the tears blazing shiny trails down her smooth cheeks. When she faced him again, her forehead and cheeks were smudged with flour. "What do you need?"
"Are you sure? Is everything okay?"
"It's fine." Her lips firmed. "What else do you need?"
Her tears rattled him now, and he stuttered. "My mom ... um ... she wanted something to serve for breakfast at the inn. She mentioned coffee cake, I think."
Shayla walked to the end of the pastry case and pointed to a ring-shaped confection with crumbly stuff on top. "We have this one. Or a pumpkin loaf."
"Okay. I'll take two of those rings." He hesitated, watching her closely. "You sure you're okay?"
She ignored his question and went to work boxing the coffee cakes. "That'll be sixteen forty-seven."
"Um ..." He waited for her to look up from the register. "You have flour" — he smiled and brushed his own cheek — "on your face. From your apron, I think."
She wheeled away, rubbing at her cheeks as if they were on fire.
He laughed. "At least you've got some color in your cheeks now." Stupid thing to say. "You were looking pretty pale — earlier, I mean." Stupider thing to say. "You got it." He pointed to her face. "It's all off now. I just thought you'd want to know. Before your next customer comes in."
Excerpted from Home at Last by Deborah Raney. Copyright © 2016 Deborah Raney. 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
Every book in the Chicory Inn series has been excellent and Home at Last is no different! Home at Last will keep your attention as the last of the Whitman children falls in love with a biracial woman who is also a little older than him and responsible for her niece whose father is in prison. Deborah Raney takes you through the reactions of both the Whitmans and Shayla's father. You will enjoy Home at Last even if you have not read the earlier books in the series. I recommend Home at Last to others. I won my copy of Home at Last from the God is Love blog. This is my honest opinion.
It is not often that a contemporary Christian author takes on such a hot topic as racial prejudice and that made me intrigued to read this book. I thought the author wrote about the subject in real and beautiful terms. Watching Link and Shayla navigate the waters of public opinion made for a really good story. It was one that left me with hope for the future. Full review at my website. Note: I received this book complimentary as a participant of the Litfuse Blog Tour. I was not required to give a positive review. All of the opinions I have expressed here are my own.
Delightful and an intriguing read. This was my first opportunity to meet Deborah Raney and the cast of the Chicory Inn series. I look forward to reading the series. This story was not what I expected but I was drawn in and moved by the poignant story that captivated this reader. By telling a story about race and inter racial marriage in a way that was honoring to God was a blessing. The characters were charming and believable. As each struggle with their own pasts and mistakes in dealing with the subject of acceptance. I did enjoy the members of the Whitman family and look forward to reading the previous books in the series. Home At Last is book 5 in the series and is a stand alone novel. I received a complimentary copy from Litfuse
Home at Last is book 5 in the A Chicory Inn series by Deborah Raney. Deborah has written another book that is so wonderful. I didn’t want to put this book down is was that good. This story is full of love, faith, trust, heartache, and pain. Grab a glass of sweet tea and a few tissues as you kick back and enjoy this most wonderful book. I received a complimentary copy of this book. This review is my honest opinion. 4 stars!
Home at Last is a story about what it means to love and be loved no matter what. This is the fifth book in the series about the Whitman family and this one is about Link Whitman who falls for Shayla Michaels. There is quite a bit of challenges that stand in the way for this couple and not least of all is that Shayla has a black father and she had a white mother. Already experiencing prejudice from her own family, white and black, Shayla does not hold out much hope for her happily ever after. Until Link. Link pursues her because of who she is, not her color. He doesn’t really see that and not until they have a few dates does he realize what he may be up against. Not only that but there are a few other obstacles that he needs to get past that are a little bit more unsettling for him instead of the color of her skin. This is a contemporary read that really shows that there is still prejudice in regards to people of mixed races still face. Not really fitting into either world can seem daunting and harrowing. And can be a very lonely existence. I like that Link and his family showed her acceptance and love, and viewed her relationship with Jesus as the most important instead of where she came from. I think though the biggest obstacle in Shayla’s life was herself and how she put labels of unworthiness and pity on her own self. If we could but glimpse the way God sees us. I liked how this novel showed realistically the extra challenges that a interracial couple may face. I received a copy of this book for free through Litfuse. I was not required to give a positive review and the views and opinions are my own.
Link Whitman doesn't exactly find an easy way into the good graces of Shayla Michaels after a near-tragic incident with Link's truck on an icy road. But that's only the tip of an iceberg of obstacles that may prevent a friendship--and something more--between this white man and mixed race woman in Home at Last, a novel by author Deborah Raney. Yes, I jumped into this series with the final book, without having read the preceding ones. But despite my bit of trouble keeping all of the Whitman family names straight a couple times, this last Chicory Inn novel didn't leave me feeling lost. In fact, I was pulled right into the novel early, and overall, I remained quite engaged along the way. The story brings together its cast of very human characters to tackle real questions concerning love, friendship, family, race relations, prejudice, faith, and how we handle our fears and dreams. I'll admit that I was more than halfway through the book before I got a convincing feel for the romance. For much of the story, it seems the development of Link and Shayla's relationship is strongly focused on the surrounding issues that can keep them apart without enough focus on building the chemistry between them, in real time. It's almost as if the romance is mostly happening in the background, and then serious romantic feelings pop into the foreground. Nevertheless, this is a hopeful and thought-provoking novel that I enjoyed and would highly recommend to fellow ChristFic readers--perhaps even ones who don't normally read romance. _________________ I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley for an honest review.
Every book I’ve read in the Chicory Inn series has challenged me, and I think it’s safe to say that each of the Whitmans (parents, kids, spouses) would agree that life often doesn’t turn out the way we planned. But through the unexpected twists and turns – marital difficulties, infidelity, infertility, remarriage after losing a spouse, and now racism – one thing remains constant: God knows what He’s doing. In Home at Last, Link finally falls in love. But it’s neither simple nor easy. Shayla Michaels knows from her parents’ experience the seemingly insurmountable problems that biracial couples face, even still today. She knows from her own experience the problems that any children from that relationship will face. And yet… she can’t stop herself from dreaming. As Link gets to know Shayla, his eyes are opened to the raw reality of racism that still exists. And so were mine. My heart broke for Shayla, for her niece Portia, and for Shayla’s father… and for Link, too. The scene where she meets his family for the first time was palpably awkward, as everyone tries to avoid being awkward. And this is with characters who all love Jesus and love people. I so appreciated the honesty in this scene, the acknowledgment that racial divides aren’t limited to hateful people or those who want to do harm. Sometimes, we’re simply divided by our own discomfort at not knowing how to relate to each other. And that’s something we can fix. Bottom Line: Home at Last by Deborah Raney is touching and convicting, wrapped in warmth despite the glimpse into the coldness of humanity. And while Link gets an education on how evil can warp attitudes and actions, Shayla’s father learns that there are more genuinely loving people in the world than perhaps he first believed. The framework of these lessons is a love story that is exquisitely sweet, romantic, and fun. I highly recommend this novel for anyone who has ever said “what can I do” as well as for anyone who just wants to enjoy a good romance, a warm family, and a well-written story. (I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book.)
Home at Last" by author Deborah Raney is another book in her A Chicory Inn Novel series. Shayla Michaels has a African American father and a white mother. After her mother dies things just get even harder for her. She even starts to take care of her niece because there is no one else left in their family that can. Link Whitman is a man whose family is trying to get him settled in his life. He does not really want a relationship. Shayla meets Link when he almost hits her niece with his car one day. Link helps his parents at Chicory Inn and Shayla runs a coffee shop. Will they be able to eventually start to feel something for each other without other people's feelings getting in the way? Can they ever be able to do something for themselves instead of others? How will they change other's beliefs? Can their faith help them through? I really enjoyed this story. I give this book a 4/5. I was given this book for a review by Litfuse Publicity Group and all opinions are mine.
Confession: This is book 5 in a series. No, I haven't read the others. And if you know anything about me or my blog, this is par for the course. :) Now that I've gotten that out of the way - I really enjoyed Home at Last. Partly due to the author (YAY I GOT TO READ A DEB RANEY BOOK FOR THE BLOG ), and partly due to the book itself. 50/50, really. The interracial component of the book made it particularly interesting (in a good way) to me! Very relatable and applicable in my own extended-family experience; eye-opening, raw, and honest, as well. We live in unique times, and for that alone I would recommend this book. It reminds the reader of the struggles that many people face; the goodness that can be found amidst those challenges; and the Savior that works even the bad for the good of those who love Him. Home At Last is a clean, fast read with theological gems and punches throughout. Typical Deborah Raney (again in a good way); she has delivered yet another winner. I'm curious to pick up the other books in the series, and have no doubt they are on par with this one. I'd recommend this to any Christian- or contemporary-fiction fan. Disclaimer: I received a free copy of Home At Last from the publisher. All opinions are my own.
First, the disclaimer. "I was provided a free copy of this book. All opinions are my own." That done, HOME AT LAST is the fifth and final (?) book in Ms. Raney's Chicory Inn series. I've read all the books in the collection and I have to say that while I looked forward to Link's story I have never seen this one coming. I have mixed feelings. I am white. I was friends with people of color - not just black. We hung out and had fun. My best garage-saling buddy was a black lady. I used to love shopping with her. And quite frankly, I have never seen the level of hatred between races that was demonstrated in this book. You can call me sheltered. I will admit it. I am. I grew up in St. Louis. And yes, schools were segregated then, so I didn't have much interaction. I lived and worked in Batesville, AR, Grand Rapids, MI, and Springfield, MO and interacted daily with people of different color. They are just people. Like me. Like you. I don't get it. Honestly. But then there was all the violence between law enforcement and people in one of the St. Louis subdivisions. Ferguson, I think. And it was mentioned in this book, multiple times. My son worked for the sheriff department. Not in Ferguson. He told me the law enforcement side of the story. I get that I got one side and not the other. I'm not arguing the point. Even though I may not agree with the dad's point of view in this story, since I look at it with a law enforcement perspective, I can see why the dad would react the way he did when it came to calling the police since he seemed to equate it with the Ferguson incident. Okay, and then there's the whole don't get involved because the girl's brother is in prison angle. They are a Christian family - both are, even though the girls dad is an extreme racist. Well, her family is, really. But even good families have children that make bad decisions. Trust me. I know. It has nothing to do with the family. And I would hate to have my future son-in-law's family judge me and my family because my adult son made (and is making) terrible decisions. The boy was raised right. I pray for him daily. But he has free will. So that angle hurt--a lot. It was like a slap in the face. This book was beautifully written. There is a lot of angst in it. Tension. But there is also a lot of judgement on families due to adult children's choices, racial issues, and other drama to work through. It was heart-wrenching. Hurtful, since I'm on one side of the coins being examined. This is not a book you read, close with a pleasant sigh and go about your day. This is a thought-provoking book that will make you think and rethink issues. I loved Link. Totally.
As I have already told the author in an email, I hope she will find inspiration for some more stories about the Whitman family. I love the heart and soul of this family. Each of the three sisters plus the widow of Link’s younger brother have had their stories told and now Link is the leading character. All of his siblings have married and he is the only holdout. He simply has not found the right woman, but maybe the tide is about to turn. Deborah Raney does a remarkable job of dealing with a subject that is often fraught with misunderstanding and unreasonable prejudices. The young woman that has caught Link’s attention is biracial, the daughter of an African American father and a white mother. Since her mother’s parents disowned her and her father’s parents mostly just tolerated them, she has dealt with more than her share of hardship. Can one family make a difference in her life? Does Link love her enough to persevere in his pursuit of her and help to change her view of her future? How can she even have a relationship with him, considering how badly her father has been hurt by the actions of her mother’s family and other white people he has encountered? Are there aspects of an interracial relationship that Link does not understand and may need help working through? The author speaks softly but the message is huge. In my opinion, more stories like this can help communicate Christ-like attitudes resulting in better actions and relationships between people with all kinds of differences. Instead of bludgeoning the reader with harmful words, Deborah Raney gently shows the way. I highly recommend this book.