Just when things can’t seem to get any worse for Mibby Garrett, the unexpected comes in the shape of Sweet Suzy Strawberry Cream Balls. Mibby, the main character in Patti Hill’s book Always Green, is a widowed mom and the sole worker in her garden-design business, Perennially Yours. The combination of a devastating drought, disastrous love attempts, cancer-ridden friends, financial struggles, a wayward stepdaughter, and a rebellious teenage son, are giving her one of the worst summers of her life.
Hill’s tight, focused plot will immediately draw readers into the story and hold their attention until the last page. She successfully uses a first-person narrative that is both realistic and easy-to-read. Readers will be able to identify with her less-than-perfect characters—especially Mibby, who struggles everyday to trust God through her tumultuous situations.
A summer drought is the first of Mibby’s problems, threatening to ruin her already frail business. When her friend surprises her by entering her in a garden-design competition, one more complication is added to her life. Between watering plants and placating unhappy customers, Mibby hardly has any time for her family. Fourteen-year-old Ky misses his dad and spends nearly all of his time in front of a computer, ignoring his mom and leaving his chores undone. Mibby’s older stepdaughter, Andrea, is a multi-pierced musician who is struggling to find her place in the world, as well as the meaning of her stepmom’s religion.
When Larry McManus walks into her life, she’s unsure whether he’s an angel in disguise or one more trouble added to her list. Larry is a Sweet Suzy deliveryman and the son of one of Mibby’s elderly, cancerous friends. His constant supply of Sweet Suzy Strawberry Cream Balls, as well as his help with her garden and her troubled son, eventually begin to convince Mibby that the he is a Godsend. But after several bad experiences, she is wary of getting herself into another relationship.
Louise, a cancer survivor, is Mibby’s constant support throughout her trials. A myriad of other friends, some young and some old, encourage Mibby to place her faith in God and trust Him to help her when times get tough. The reader’s own faith, in turn, will be encouraged as Mibby’s relationship with the Lord deepens throughout the book.
Always Green will appeal to a wide range of women: moms will identify with the struggle Mibby has to reach her struggling teenage son; flower-lovers will appreciate the fact that gardening is an integral part of the story; single-mothers will relate to Mibby’s difficulty with moving on in life after the loss of her spouse. This well-written book promises an enjoyable reading experience. -- Hannah M.K. Rexroth, Christian Book Previews.com
When the growing gets tough . . .
Mibby Garrett could really use three things: a book that will tell her how to get through to her teenage son; enough money to pay for the new water heater; and a long, gentle rainstorm to nourish her clients' gardens, end the summer drought, and save her garden-design business.
A week's supply of Sweet Suzy Strawberry Cream Balls would be nice, too. Romance, maybe—but only if the man is at least as reliable as her black Lab and prepared to be an awesome role model for her son.
Most of all, she'd just like a few days with no surprises. She sure hasn't asked for what happens instead . . .