Review of BACK ON BLOSSOM STREET by Debbie Macomber (see her website)
Mira Books, April 2007
Lydia Goetz's yarn shop is doing well and has sparked a bit of a renaissance in its neighborhood with new specialty stories opening and growing. To help promote the business, Lydia decides to start a new class--this one based on knitting a prayer shawl. Each of the woman who signs up brings a set of issues with them. Alix Townsend thinks her life should be perfect because she's engaged to a wonderful man (and minister) but the wedding has got out of hand and is showing her things about her fiance that aren't so wonderful at all. Colette is on the run after a one-night-stand with her ex-boss and her decision to report him to the authorities for an apparent involvement in smuggling Chinese into America. Lydia's sister Margaret had been doing well but when Margaret's daughter is carjacked and injured, Margaret becomes consumed with anger and hatred. And Lydia herself, although supported by a wonderful husband, must deal with her aging mother who is suffering from Alzheimer's and with the realization that she truly wants a child that her cancer treatment makes a virtual impossibility.
Each of the woman struggles with their problems, finding help from each other and from an older generation of women who have already lived through so much and has learned life's lessons the hard way. For some, prayer offers hope, and the prayer shawl becomes symbolic of the changes taking place in their lives.
Author Debbie Macomber (see more BooksForABuck.com reviews of novels by Macomber) specializes in delivering wonderful characters. Each of these people seems real, has their insecurities, their weaknesses, their flaws, as well as unexpected strengths. For many, especially Lydia and Margaret, there's the sense of being caught in the middle, between aging parents and children, both of whom need more attention than any one person can afford. In adulthood, sibling rivalries are transformed, but they never completely go away. Macomber's characters are all so different: watching them interact and grow sustains reader interest through the novel.
BACK ON BLOSSOM STREET is no thriller. The story is one of character growth and realization rather than adventure and danger. Many of the choices these women make are flawed--but come naturally from their experience. Will Alix be happy with Jordan considering how quick he was to ignore her concerns? Alix hopes so, and we as readers hope so, too, but I also worry that she's mistaken her fantasy for reality. That I care about this, considering that Alix is a fictional person, certainly says something about Macomber's talent as a writer.
For me, the faith and prayers were a bit much, and I would have liked to see a bit more of a relationship between Colette and Christian before they made decisions about their future, but BACK ON BLOSSOM STREET is classic Debbie Macomber. Her fans will be overjoyed to see so many favorite characters returned in another thoughtful and sometimes tear-provoking story.
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