"All Right Here" is a story that caught me by surprise-I love it when books do that! What I mean is that the story is unique, yet charming-and full of hope. I really enjoyed reading it.
"All Right Here" is the story of Ivy Darling and her family. She's married to Nick, who has a mother who dotes on him and three sisters who refuse to accept Ivy as part of their family. Ivy also has three sisters. She also has an older brother. I believe we'll be learning more about these siblings in future books about the Darling Family.
Ivy and Nick can't have children of their own and are considering adoption. When Ivy discovers that the three children next door have been abandoned by their mother, however, she takes them into her home and convinces Nick to let them stay until the situation is resolved. Nick is willing to let them stay, but he refuses to even consider the possibility of accepting them into his family permanently. The situation forces first Ivy, and then Nick, to face truths about their marriage and within their own hearts that must be resolved for the existence of their love.
Personally, I loved the way that Ivy related to everyone in her world. She's a character of patience, love, and grace. When circumstances tempt her to harden her heart, God confronts her and she responds in a beautiful way. Her insights in that climactic passage alone make the book worth reading, though the whole story is beautifully done. I'm looking forward to reading future books by Carre Armstrong Gardner and recommend this one to anyone who enjoys ordinary stories about ordinary people just learning to get along. I thank Tyndale House Publishers for sending me a free copy of "All Right Here" in exchange for this review.
The author, Carre Gardner, write stories "about the ordinary lives of ordinary people. She believes every life is a fascinating drama, every person is the hero of his or her own story." The "About the Author" page goes on to say that Gardner "tells those kinds of stories in a way that makes readers love her characters." If this book is typical of the way the author writes, then I agree with the above statement because I came to enjoy the lovable characters, root for the ones struggling with issues, and developed the desire to give a good shake to the irritating ones.
Since this is very much a character driven story here is a list of a few of the persons the reader meets:
Ivy Darling: Married seven years to Nick and unable to have children of her own.
Nick Mason: Husband of Ivy, whom he resents for depriving him of having children of his own.
Jane Darling: Mother of five Darling children, all adults, but still a close knit family. Like many mothers, she worries and prays over her brood.
Laura Darling: Ivy's twin sister, but unlike her in many ways. She is restless and flirts dangerously with boundaries. She has a crush on her handsome married boss, Max.
Amy Darling: Jane's youngest daughter, started college, and is a bit restless like her sister Laura.
Esme: The college student manager of Parchments bookstore where Ivy works part-time.
Leander Darling: Father of the Darling family, the wise and loving husband and Dad.
Ruby Mason: Nick's mother who has never liked Ivy and is always hinting how much she would love grandchildren.
Sephy Darling: Another daughter of Jane and Leander, goes to college in Ohio, works as a nurse's aid, and has always been overweight. She has never been on a date.
David Darling: The only boy in the Darling family, is 30 and still unmarried, which worries his mother.
Grace Chapel: The church where both the Darling and Mason families attend. The entire Darling family sing together and many play instruments for some of the church services.
Lily Allen: The mother of three children who live next door to Ivy and Nick. She disappeared shortly after moving in, abandoning her children.
DeShaun Johnson: The oldest of the three abandoned children; he is 14 with a knack for cooking.
Jada Lovett: DeShaun's 9 year old sister. She has a lovely singing voice.
Hammer Hernandez: Jada and Deshaun's 6 year old brother. He had never been properly potty trained.
Baily: Ivy's cousin works for Child Protective Services of Maine. She set up Ivy and Nick as foster parents for the three children when their mother did not return.
Milo: DeShaun's geeky best friend at school (and self proclaimed Jew).
Jessica, Angela, Tiffany: Nick's three married sisters who have never liked Ivy and exclude her at every family get together they attend.
Jonathon Blackfeather: Ivy took a pottery class through adult education to give herself some "me" time as counterbalance to all the time spent with her three foster children. Ivy and Jonathon, the instructor, become friends. For a little while, Ivy is tempted to be more than a friend.
While the storyline at first seemed slow to develop, it didn't take long before I was engrossed in the many layers of the Darling and Mason family dramas. Once Ivy and Nick became foster parents to DeShaun, Jada and Hammer, their laid back predictable lives were turned upside down. They were thrown into the deep waters of parenting without the benefits of easing into the shallow waters first. By the time the couple gained their stride, it was difficult for me to put the book down, even to sleep. The story is filled with trials, lessons and hard-earned victories. I found it hard to predict what would happen next. The author successfully brings the reader along for the ride.
By the time the authorities finally found the children's mother, nearly a year later, they all knew they would be staying with Ivy and Nick for a long time to come. And while the main conflict is eventually resolved, many other subplots in the book remain unresolved giving the impression that there may be more books to follow. The next Darling family novel is slated to come out in the Fall of 2015. I am looking forward to reading more from this author. If you like character driven stories, with events that make you think, then you'll like this book.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. through their Blog Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
In some ways this book is all about the normal dysfunctions of life, yet it's a hard to put down book. In her book, All Right Here: A Darling Family Novel, by Carre Armstrong Gardner has written an easy to read book about a family in turmoil.
Ivy Darling is married to Nick Mason, but still uses her maiden name which infuriates her mother in law. Her sister in laws don't like her and seek to hurt her at every chance. Ivy and Nick want children but can't, and it is the cause of tension in their lives. Nick is very regimented in his life, which is the opposite of Ivy. Then one day three children enter their lives. The children are African American who have not had real parenting.
Ivy is excited, Nick is not. Yet, the children stay and stay. But their marriage is crumbling. Ultimately, they have some real decisions which need to be made. What will they choose?
This was an easy to read book, and a good book.
The author, Carre Armstrong Gardner has worked in Russia for 3 years working with at risk children. Which highlights some of her passion for writing this book.
I received this book at no cost from Tyndale House Publishers, in exchange for an honest review.
All Right Here, a Darling Family Novel, by Carre Armstrong Gardner, ISBN 978-1-4143-8814-4, Tyndale: Carre Gardner worked with at-risk children in Russia, and through her experiences as a nurse, she gained a passion for helping children (and others). Through her fictional work, "All Right Here," Gardener takes the story of adoption/foster children to the next level. Ivy Darling can't have children of her own, and her husband, Nick, isn't happy, and his snippy remarks and resentment show cleverly and clearly through Gardner's prose. When fate steps in, and three children, of a different race, need a place to stay. Though Nick is just not happy at all about it, and Ivy is beginning to wonder if the marriage is worth saving, there is something deep inside of Nick that guides him to change. But does he do it in time? This was a page turner for sure for me, and in the end, I was surprised. Not a typical ending of such a story. Get it, you will enjoy it.