~ About the Book ~
Mindy Lee “Minnie” Carlson’s dream job has dropped into her hands, but there’s a catch. She has four months to revive Open Circle, the town’s only Senior Adult Day Center, or the doors will close, leaving her jobless, and the seniors she cares for stranded.
Meanwhile, after decades traveling the globe and documenting the forgotten people of the world, Jackson Young discovers his beloved Grandma Em is still alive in Minnie’s small town.
Overjoyed, he races back to his hometown to reconnect, and discovers Grandma Em has adopted Minnie as her surrogate grandchild for the past twenty years.
Then Grandma Em has a stroke, and his ideas about her care pit him against Minnie’s determination and expertise. For Grandma Em’s sake, and the future of Open Circle, they’ll need to do the impossible–find a way to work together.
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Release date: 21 June 2018
~ Excerpt ~
Thirty minutes later, he stood in the hospital room doorway watching a dark-haired young woman, tears on her cheeks, speak quietly to the older woman in the bed. He stepped back into the hall to check the room number, then frowned at the intimate scene. Why would an aide be crying over his grandmother? At least Grandma wasn’t alone. He should have gotten here yesterday.
He moved into the room and the girl looked up, their gazes meeting in the silence. Dark eyebrows pinched upward over tear-filled eyes.
She stood, still holding his grandmother’s hand, and brushed the wetness from her cheeks. “Can I help you?”
Minnie? As in Minnie Mouse? A corner of his mouth twitched.
Her expressive eyebrows lifted as she waited for him to say more. She was tall and slender, dark hair brushing her shoulders. Pretty. Maybe a neighbor? He looked at his grandmother, then back at the young woman.
When he remained silent, her mouth curved up and his cheeks warmed. “Maybe you have the wrong room.”
He gave himself a mental slap. “No. I’m here to see Emily. Emily Young.”
She glanced at his grandmother with an affectionate smile. “She’s sleeping, as you can see. How do you know her?”
“I’m her grandson.”
The smile vanished as her eyes went wide. “You’re that Jack?”
“Uh…yeah?” Was there another one? He glanced down at his travel-wrinkled clothes. “I just got into town. I got a letter from her attorney a few weeks ago.”
“Ah.” She nodded. Mouth in a tight line, her chin lifted. “You’re a bit early to collect on her millions. They think she’ll pull through fine.”
His gaze swung to his grandmother’s placid face. She had millions? From where? He opened his mouth, but Minnie Mouse spoke first.
“Nice of you to show up now. Where’ve you been the last twenty years?”
~ Review ~
This was an enjoyable read as much for the delightful community that made up Open Circle as it was for the way in which Jackson and Minnie’s relationship developed from its initial hostility into friendship and love. If you’ve ever had much to do with the senior members of our communities, you’ll know that social activity can have a huge impact on quality of life, and it’s that knowledge that drives Minnie Carlson to throw everything she has into giving Open Circle the chance to stay open, despite its dire financial straits. That and the fact that it’s a second home for the woman who has been her defacto grandmother for most of her life.
But Grandma Em has a biological grandson—one whom she hasn’t seen for twenty years—and when he suddenly shows up after she suffers a stroke, it not only provokes Minnie’s disdain; it awakens her insecurity, as Grandma Em welcomes him with open arms, declaring it an answer to prayer. Minnie can’t help feeling displaced, and by an unworthy candidate at that! And Jackson naturally resents Minnie’s proprietary care of his grandmother and the way she seems to think she has the right to make decisions about Grandma Em’s care and recovery.
There’s no love or attraction at first sight here, that’s for sure, and when you add in the pressure Jack and Minnie are under in their respective jobs, it’s little wonder neither presents their best side in the company of the other. They had to be encouraged to examine their attitude toward one another and make a conscious effort to reach out in friendship, and that was not only well handled, but made for a refreshing change. Their relationship developed organically, and the romantic element was subtle and sweet.
I also loved the way in which the story celebrated the dignity and humanity of its elderly characters, even as it presented the realities that come with aging. And Grandma Em was the sweetest of them all. Oh, that we all had our own Grandma Em!
Enjoyable, and engagingly-written.
I received a copy of this novel from the author. This has not influenced the content of my review, which is my honest and unbiased opinion.
~ About the Author ~
Stacy Monson is the award-winning author of The Chain of Lakes series, including “Shattered Image,” “Dance of Grace,” and “The Color of Truth.” Her stories reveal an extraordinary God at work in ordinary life. As a speaker, she engages her audience with humor, hope, and encouragement to be who they designed to be.
A member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and Minnesota Christian Writers Guild (MCWG), she is the area coordinator for ACFW in Minnesota, past president of ACFW MN-NICE, and the Events Director for MCWG.
Residing in the Twin Cities, Stacy is the wife of a juggling, unicycling physical education teacher, mom to two amazing kids and two wonderful in-law kids, and a very proud grandma of 3 (and counting) grands.