I've loved almost everything Sally John has written, her faith weaves into her plots seamlessly, her characters have depth and are empathetic, her settings are ideal and I just love the way she pulls the whole thing together without making the romance smarmy or overly sweet. Heaven Help Heidi is one of those kinds of stories.
The characters (or at least some of them):
Heidi Hathaway--driven real estate broker who drives herself into the hospital via a one car accident. During her recovery, she leases her condo because she cannot negotiate the stairs in it. Heidi has to learn to release her fears since her accident--fear of driving, fear of even being in a car, fear of going by the accident site.
Val--Heidi's partner in the real estate business, a bitter woman with some issues from her childhood
Piper Keyes--the once-fiancee of an airman killed in Afghanistan, now a personal shopper at a high end department store. Every year around the anniversary of her fiance's death, she tends to go off the deep end.
Hudson Hathaway--Heidi's author-brother-twin: a hermit who lives in Baja California
Adam--Val's brother and Heidi's college friend
Liv--Heidi's widowed landlady, also Val and Adam's step-mother, a praying woman
Jasmyn, Keagan, et al--the residents of Casa de Vida in Seaside Village. They seem to all live here for a reason, and they all have a special place in Liv's heart.
This book is about wounds, some that show, most that don't, and how these wounds are healed. This book is about community, about learning to depend on someone besides yourself, about giving more of yourself than you take, about learning to release bitterness for your own health, and learning to live life as it is given to you, making the most of what you have. This is also a book about love and romance, but that is a side note to the rest of the plot.
Casa de Vida is a complex of small bungalows and one thing that happens nightly is that Liv makes her rounds and prays for the residents of each bungalow. Somehow she knows exactly how to pray for each one. I want to be able to pray like that. She finds a way to welcome each resident so that they feel as if they've come home from a long time away. I want to be that hospitable. She even finds a way to help her stepson love his father, and keep memories of his father alive. I want to love like that.
The only criticism I have for this book is that Sally didn't include Liv's recipe for macaroni and cheese. It is not a fast read, but it is hard to put down. It is compelling, engaging, and it makes you feel like you are part of this large family. It pulls you in and doesn't let you go. Five stars, two thumbs up, and a casserole dish full of homemade mac-n-cheese.
My thanks to Harvest House Publishers for allowing me to read this book in exchange for my review.