Sunday, November 29, 2020

the year of thorns and Honey by Amy Willoughby-Burle - REVIEWED

 About the Book:

Nina is a photographer who really appreciates control. She likes to set up just the right shot with the perfect composition, but life is not always as pretty as her pictures. The lighting is off, the timing is wrong, and the subjects just won't do like she wants them to.

She's engaged to her ex-husband, her teenage daughter is testing all the boundaries, and her childhood memories have a For-Sale sign on them. She's also keeping a secret about the chance of a lifetime, but what she'll have to give up to get it might not be worth it. Just when she thinks she's got it all figured out, an important someone resurfaces and forces her to take a hard look at what she really wants and why.

Life can be as prickly as it is sweet. Will Nina be able to let go of the perfect picture she had in her head and let her heart find the sweetness that life has to offer.

About the Author:

Amy Willoughby-Burle grew up in the small coastal town of Kure Beach, North Carolina. She studied writing at East Carolina University and is now a writer and teacher living in Asheville, North Carolina, with her husband and four children. She writes about the mystery and wonder of everyday life. Her contemporary fiction focuses on the themes of second chances, redemption, and finding the beauty in the world around us. Sara Gruen says of The Lemonade Year, “When life gives you lemons, read this book. It’s a delicious glass of humor, heart, and hope.”  Amy is also the author of a collection of short stories entitled Out Across the Nowhere and a contributor to a number of anthologies.

My Thoughts:
"Sticky, beautiful, sweet and messy.  Life."  (p, 377)

Nina and I are uncomfortably similar in our need to control every aspect of our world to feel safe.  Nina's control issues run up against a brick wall with everyone in her life, because everyone else has pushed beyond their fear and embraced the reality of their own life choices.  For Nina's sake, and my own, grace and mercy has never looked sweeter!

This author does a masterful job of fleshing out every character's personality and how the need to have control over the uncomfortable choices they have made (and are making) play out in their closest relationships.  Nina pretty much stays at odds with everyone; her daughter Cassie, her mom, her sister and brother-in-law, Father Finley and her ex-husband Jack.  Within those relationships, the reader sees another layer of struggle for control, and the strain and heartbreak that result.  There are some scenes - like the one with the moving van and the night Cassie seeks solace outside her parents' awareness - that illustrate the extreme lengths the human heart will go to in order to avoid dealing with painful emotions.

Every single relational conflict in this story is universal nature, and every reader will identify with one or more of the situations.  I think I saw myself in every single one! Talk about felling your toes stepped on by the weight of truth! Ouch!  I could not put this story down, and quickly found myself involved in the lives of each character.

Second chances are often never offered in our lives - to ourselves or to others - because we're never willing to boldly face our own shortcomings or become willing to risk rejection.  I hope you can "hear" me when I say this: take a risk and read this book!  You will leave its pages challenged and satisfied.  This story is every bit as sticky, beautiful, sweet and messy as life can be!

Bravo, Amy Willougby-Burle!

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