Monday, April 23, 2012

Leaving Lancaster: A Novel, by Kate Lloyd

Overview (from NetGalley): More than anything else, thirty-something Holly Fisher longs for family. Growing up in Seattle without a dad or grandparents, she wonders what it would be like to have a heritage, a place of belonging. Holly is furious when her mother, Esther, reveals a long-kept secret: Holly's grandmother and uncles are still alive and begging Esther to return. And Holly is shocked when she learns that the family she's never known lives on a Lancaster, Pennsylvania, farm-as part of an Amish community her mother once abandoned.

Guilt-ridden Esther, terrified to see her mother and siblings, begs Holly to accompany her on a visit to Esther's mother before she dies. But can their journey to a conflicting world heal their emotional wounds and finally bring them home?

Set in the heart of contemporary Lancaster County,
Leaving Lancaster explores the power of forgiveness, family reconciliation, and love where least expected. 

Review: Love, regret, forgiveness, redemption, second chances, new beginnings; these are some of the words that best describe the idea or themes behind this novel. This is the story of a woman coming home to the family she deserted, and the story of this woman's only daughter finally feeling at home with the family she never knew she had. Both women are afraid, scared and in desperate need of love, mercy, grace and each other. It could have been such a wonderful, beautiful, touching story, but the execution prevented it.

This is the problem I had: the two female leads were so unlikable, their attitudes so undesirable, that it was very hard to find a redeeming quality in them. The thing is that both women appear to have been written with much younger versions in mind. Holly, the daughter, sounded like an 18 year old, and the mother... maybe a 30 something, but they were both so childish and immature in their thinking, actions and in the way they spoke that it was hard to sympathize with either one. They were fighting constantly, and contradicting their thoughts with their words; for instance, the daughter would do a little soul searching and realize that she needed to cut her mother some slack, but then almost immediately say something rude to her, out of the blue. She was a brat. Half the time I was expecting them to start a "You did!" "I did not!" "Did, too!" "Did not!" fight.

Also, sometimes it felt as if the author had forgotten her own plot and previous scenes. For example, the mother mentioned her 5 brothers to her daughter, and Holly says: "Mom, you're talking gibberish. First a mother. Now, five brothers?..." Then, a few pages later, the mother mentions her five brothers again, and Holly says: "Five brothers and this is the first I'm hearing of them?" Really, no. Other times the characters' words and actions made no sense, their expressions and reactions coming out of nowhere.

I will say this, however: the author did a beautiful job writing the big confrontation / redemption scene. It was beautifully written, expressed and managed. It was really moving. Also, Nathaniel was a very nicely written character, as well as Jeremiah and Beatrice.

The novel did keep my interest as it slowly unraveled the mysteries and secrets behind this family and their actions. But not all was revealed, which I think means that there would be more to come.

2 1/2 stars out of 5 

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher, David C. Cook, through NetGalley in exchange of an honest review.


  1. Very interesting review! Most of the reviews I've seen for this book so far have been extremely positive, so it's very interesting to read a review from a different angle.

    I'm going to be starting this book later tonight, so I'm anxious to see how it will be. :)

  2. I know! I kept expecting the novel to get better for me, based on the good ratings it has, but, sadly, it was not the case. I hope you enjoy it, though. Besides, it does have some good things, but overall, it could have been much, much better.