A Black Cat Book Review
Porch Lights by Dorothea Benton Frank
When life throws a curve ball and you don’t know what to do the best thing to do is to go home. That is what this story is about, going home to family to heal heartbreak and to be strengthened by the love of family so you can go on again.
Jackie was an Army nurse serving in Afghanistan when her firefighter husband was killed. When she goes back to Brooklyn to bury her Jimmy and help her ten-year old son, Charlie, comes to terms with his father’s death she is overwhelmed. Devastated by their loss Jackie decides to take Charlie and go home to Sullivans Island for the summer.
Though Jackie and her mother, Annie, haven’t always gotten along, Annie is happy to have them come. Annie is opinionated and outspoken and not easy to live with but she has a big heart and loves her family and wants to help them. After Jackie and Jimmy married and moved to New York Annie’s husband and Jackie’s father, Buster, left. That was over ten years ago and though Buster lives nearby the beach house has been too big and too empty for too long.
Jackie is a strong independent woman and worries that going home even just for the summer maybe a bad idea. Much to Annie’s credit she accepts that Jackie and Charlie will leave at the end of summer but believes it would be best that they stay and make their home on the island.
As the summer goes on Charlie begins to again be the bright, funny, and smart kid he was before his father’s death. As Jackie grieves she knows she must start making plans for herself and her son’s future. She wants to go back to Brooklyn so they can begin to build a new life. But Charlie wants to stay on the island and does something surprising, and uncharacteristic, to assure he will stay.
The summer is filled with island beauty, stories of pirates and Edgar Allan Poe, good food, friends, family, and learning about what is important in life. Annie and Jackie tell the story, each seeing things in her own way. Though they see and experience things differently they both learn about family and the ties that bind.
I have read other novels by Dorothea Benton Frank and have never been disappointed. I enjoyed this book, too. It is realistic in its portrayals of the characters and events. There is honesty and humor that is refreshing. If you are looking fo a happy ending this is it.