Friday, January 10, 2020

Review: When I Come Home Again by Jennifer Rodewald

My rating: 4 stars / I really liked it


When a family crisis calls him back to Big Prairie, will Craig Erikson be able to work through past mistakes and the tragedy that had sent him searching for a new place to call home?

Brenna Blaum had been sure of three things in her life—her brother, her running, and her dad’s star receiver. But in a matter of a year’s time, everything she’d counted on fell apart, leaving her devastated. Seven years later, she’s stable again. She has a supportive boyfriend, fulfilling career, and close friends. She keeps her past heartache where it belongs—in her rearview mirror. Until the man who broke her heart finds his way back to Big Prairie.

Craig Erikson had it all—popularity, success, and the love of his high school coach’s daughter. But after a year of mistakes that ended in a tragic accident, he’d left Big Prairie—the place he’d thought to always call home—hoping that without his antagonizing presence, Brenna would be able to heal. Now his mother desperately needs him, as do two young boys in her care. Craig has little choice but to return for good.

Unsure that she can forgive him, Brenna does her best to avoid him. Irritated that she ignores him as if they’d never meant anything to each other, Craig becomes determined not to allow it.

Life in a small town forces their interaction, making them confront their unresolved issues and igniting emotions that have smoldered for seven years. As Craig and Brenna are pushed together, can they endure the hard places still littering their lives? If so, is it possible to find their way back to love and home again?

My Review

I've never been so happy to have a happy ending! I enjoyed the characters and the complex dynamics of their relationships, but holy angst! Craig's reappearance in town and promptings from her psychiatrist boyfriend bring long-repressed emotions to the surface, even though Brenna does not want to deal with them. I've learned that fighting against feelings makes life even more difficult, and it's not until Brenna acknowledges that she needs to process them and seek the healing of forgiveness that she begins her journey towards peace. Craig is struggling with so much change in his life- a new job, his mother fighting cancer, and becoming the father-figure to two foster children. Memories from their past filled with both joy and heartache are revisited and revealed throughout the book and the reader gradually sees how strong their connection was, and the mistakes both made that tore them apart. The message of forgiveness and redemption is strong and the story is full of emotion as Craig and Brenna find their way back to each other slowly.

(I received a complimentary copy of the book; all opinions in this review are my own)

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