A freak tornado rips through a small community in Missouri, completely cutting off the farm where Gretchen Brink and her younger, blind sisters Trudy and Bennie live. The sisters' other senses are acute and they not only sense the coming of the physical storm but also the emotional storm roiling in its wake. When inspecting the property for damage, Gretchen finds an injured man under a tree in the long barren, but now inexplicably budding walnut grove. He doesn't know who he is or where he is but she and her sisters quickly come to understand that there's every chance he could be Sam Winston, the man from whose parents Gretchen inherited the farm, who has long been thought dead in Africa, and who Gretchen named as the father of her baby so many years ago. She and Sam had been the closest of friends and although Sam wanted more from her, at seventeen she wasn't interested. After his disappearance while on a mission trip, it gave his parents comfort to believe that Gretchen's baby was Sam's and it gave her a place to shelter after her judgmental and hard mother cast her out for the sin of her pregnancy and so she let everyone believe that Sam was the father. She raised her daughter Abby with that understanding as well, keeping the truth to herself.
But now The Man Who Might Be Sam is recovering in her home and Abby is about to show up on her doorstep as well, unexpectedly pregnant and reeling, having run away from the long-time boyfriend who sees no reason to get married but whom she does love deeply. And when Abby arrives, she immediately latches onto the idea that the man in the parlor is in fact Sam, her father, finally come home to her just like she wished for so many years growing up. Over the course of the next few days, the past is evident everywhere on the Winston/Brink farm. From Gretchen's childhood growing up with a harsh and blunt mother who felt that the truth was more important that sparing anyone's feelings to the mystery and mysticism of Sam Winston's grandfather Hank Littlefoot, a shaman who could summon the rain to Abby's childhood and her wish that her mother wouldn't ease the sting of the truth with small, apparently harmless fibs.
But if the past and its long concealed secrets swirl around these characters, they must also look forward to their futures. How can they discover who The Man Who Might Be Sam is? What is Abby's plan going forward? Will she tell Nate about the baby and what decisions will they make, together or seperately? Will Gretchen be able to keep the secret of Abby's paternity to herself and spare Abby anger and sadness at the loss of her growing relationship with the man she readily accepts is both Sam and her father? Can Gretchen open her heart to the precious connection she dismissed forty years ago? Although the past cannot be re-written, it can offer guidance and maybe, with the help of an anachronistic storm, it can shine a light on the way forward.
McBride has written a story filled with genuine warmth, love, and hope. The idea of truth as something not quite an absolute and the importance of the intention behind a lie is an intriguing one. The characters are charming and the quirky novel moves along well. The use of the past, especially Hank Littlefoot's story, helps to flesh out the present as does the use of multiple narrators. And the thread of magic and belief that runs through the tale adds an unexpected spice to the plot although the ending remains very predictable and the mystery of who the man is is never really in doubt. An easy read, this will appeal greatly to those who like a light bit of magic, family, and love in their women's fiction.
For more information about Susan McBride and the book check out her website. Follow the rest of the blog tour or look at the amazon reviews for others' thoughts and opinions on the book.
Thanks to Trish from TLC Book Tours and the publisher for sending me a copy of this book to review.