When I finished the book, my first thought was, "I wish I could have been the editor!" That is because I felt that with just a bit of tweaking this book could go from "pretty good" to "great read." The author's strong point is character development. You get to know the characters and their motivations. The pacing is excellent (until the final two chapters). The storyline is fresh and believable until.. it stops. If I had been the editor, I would have asked the author to rewrite the ending because she switched from 'showing' to 'telling,' and that left some unresolved issues. I am not talking about a set-up for a possible next book in the series either. I mean it just stops without an honest resolution.
Charlotte, the main character, knows the hidden truth about a felony in which another character dies. Apparently she is fine with that. In her prayer, she rationalizes it as "keeping a promise." The author fails to give any hint that this is a setup for a future disaster, and this omission is the greatest weakness of the book: the failure to recognize that keeping a lie is not okay. The entire theme of the book is about getting old garbage out in the open and rebuilding a life (several lives, actually), and yet the heroine decides to be complicit in secretly storing other characters' garbage. That is a bit traitorous for the reader.
The other spot where the editor failed this author was in not fixing a gratuitous scene. There is a lot of evidence that Charlotte had suffered psychological abuse from her husband, and throughout the book she is dealing with and recovering from those issues; but then near the climax, and seemingly out of the blue, she says it was physical abuse. Why? Just to identify with another character? It weakened the reader's opinion of Charlotte to have that thrown in so late in the story. Charlotte is in her early 40s (you have to run the math based on a conversion with her mom to get this because up to that point she acted older). The psychological abuse toward a woman that age was well written and believable. But the "Oh, yeah, and my late husband hit me too" coming out the way it did later in the story actually made me feel less sympathy for her. If this character shows up in any sequel, I hope she gets slapped with an obstruction of justice charge.
I thought this book was pretty good overall, reminiscent of Mitford Series books in some ways. But I also thought the introduction of abuse and threats later in the book detracted from an otherwise upbeat story. I never quite got a handle on Charlotte's actual age either.
When Charlotte's husband suddenly dies, she decides it's time to make some changes and to take her life in a different direction. After inquiring on a double-wide trailer, she sells her house, packs up her car and heads out for her new home. But once she get's there she finds that neither the trailer nor the trailer park is not as immaculate as the brochure represented.
But Charlotte is determined to make the best of it and starts to renovate her trailer. As the days and weeks go by she begins to met her unusual neighbors and together they slowly begins to become a community.
I loved this book. I loved the characters because they could be people that everyone of us knows. And while this book did make me smile and laugh a lot of the way through it, there were some serious plot lines that keep the the book well grounded.
This was a new author for me and I'm happy to say that I will be looking forward to reading more from her.