David C. Cook
Hometown Ties by Melody Carlson is a tale of four women who share much more than the same first name. These women share a friendship that leads them, together, to conquer any and all obstacles they face. And, as Linda Caroline, Linda Janie, Linda Abby, and Linda Marley soon discover, obstacles are in ready supply even in their tiny childhood home of Clifden, Oregon. Proverbs 18:4 says, “There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother,” but in this case, it is a sister.
Melody Carlson has done a wonderful job of allowing her readers to delve deeply into the lives of four separate women without the story becoming confused or chaotic. Even more, the emotions in this book truly come across: Caroline’s desperation, Janie’s long-hidden hurt, Abby’s depression, and Marley’s frustration. These serve to draw the readers into the story and help them feel the strong undercurrent of true friendship that binds these women.
A scene that highlights these aspects of Carlson’s writing is when Janie, Abby, and Marley band together to renovate Caroline’s backyard/junkyard. The description on Caroline’s face as the blinds are pulled back had me grinning like a fool for five full minutes.
All four women are facing unique problems. Caroline is struggling to care for her Alzheimer’s afflicted mother, without losing her own sanity. Janie is moving into her deceased parents’ house and must face the painful memories that still lurk there. Abby is attempting to salvage her damaged marriage, and at the same time trying to make her biggest dream come true. Marley is discovering just how hard it really is to make a living as an artist, especially when suffering from a major case of “painter’s block.”
Though each woman shows incredible strength, there are flaws present. Caroline evidences bouts of jealousy toward her friends. Abby holds a lingering grudge toward the person she believes to be “the other woman.” Marley is occasionally cynical about marriage and boasts about having a homosexual son. Janie knowingly hires several illegal aliens to do work around her house. Some of these flaws are looked down upon, while others are glossed over as perfectly acceptable.
Despite some plotting slip-ups, I enjoyed reading Hometown Ties. An undercurrent of God’s love runs through this story, and, by the end, He has drawn one of the women closer to Him. True friendship is a rare thing these days, and it’s refreshing to see an author portray it so well.
I would recommend this book to women looking for encouragement, or simply a nice comfort story. – Becky Farb, www.ChristianBookPreviews.com
After decades out of touch, four fifty-something childhood friends have returned to the little coastal town of Clifden, Oregon, where they grew up. They look forward to supporting one another as they reinvent their lives. But second acts can be a challenge, and each woman feels the stretch. Widowed lawyer Janie struggles to leave the past behind and move forward. Emerging artist Marley wrestles with "painter's block." Empty-nester Abby fears no one takes her seriously, while beautiful Caroline has all she can do to keep her Alzheimer's-patient mother at home.and wearing clothes! Plus, old resentments and new misunderstandings are beginning to strain the friendships they all count on. Can the Four Lindas sisterhood continue to thrive in the close quarters of one little hometown?