This is a lovely book about a woman who is so nice you wouldn’t think she would be believable, except somehow, the author makes her so. This possibly could be because apparently the author is very much like this herself. You only need to search for reviews for her books and note how many start with, “I should admit from the start that I have met Beth Hoffman and I love her!”
Teddi Overman is 36 and has an antique restoration shop in Charleston. She came from Kentucky, near the Daniel Boone National Forest, where both she and her brother Josh developed a fierce appreciation of and love for nature, especially animals and birds. And from age ten, Teddi also discovered a love of restoring old furniture, and now, much to her mother’s consternation, that is what she does for a living.
But Teddi never has gotten over the fact that her brother went missing when he was eighteen; they were so close, and she loved him so much; and not knowing what happened to him keeps him very much alive in her head and heart. She is also dealing with an internal struggle over the fate of her family’s farm in Kentucky: she has so many great memories there, and feels so attached to it, but in truth, with Josh gone, there is no one to care for it. With the help of her grandmother, she learns “sometimes it’s not what we hold on to that shapes our lives – it’s what we’re willing to let go of.”
Evaluation: I don’t think this book is supposed to be a “tear-jerker,” but I cried several times while reading it. The author manages to make Teddi’s pains and joys and loves our own, and we can’t help feeling what she is feeling. Even her dog Buddy (who does not die, I should add), is portrayed in such a warm affectionate way it seems as if you can actually feel him in your lap as you read!
Almost all the human characters in the book are also ones you wish you knew, and feel lucky to have “known” while reading. The writing is quite fine, and Hoffman has the talent of bringing us to where she is, whether deep in the forest or out in the streets of Charleston, and making us see what she sees.
Published by Pamela Dorman Books, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA), 2013