Rating 5 out of 5
"The way she saw it, you sought comfort in the loved ones left and in those loved ones you hadn't yet met."
Trigger Warnings: death of a spouse, death of a child, death of a parent, mental health, grief/loss, overdose, abortion, cancer, caretaker role, adoption, search for biological parent, and 9/11. *This book is deep and covers a lot so here are some of the major ones*
When Josie's brother Vic loses his wife and children in a tragic accident, no stranger to grief herself, she immediately leaves her home and horses to join him in LA. Helping Vic pick up the broken pieces of his life also causes Josie to confront her broken relationship with her daughter, Ellie, and her estranged father, Tony. Josie and Vic are both confronted with changing worlds and struggling to find exactly where they fit. It isn't long before Josie finds comfort in both nature and a budding relationship with the veterinarian back home who is taking care of her horses. Vic finds himself battling an overwhelming depression and seeking his purpose in life, without his wife and children. An unexpected journey to the US-Mexico border offers this family the chance to reconnect with each other and work through their grief.
So as I'm sure you can imagine this is a DEEP story it isn't a book to go into lightly. It's truly a story of love, loss, forgiveness and hope. At the center of the novel is both family and what I'm calling defining moments. The book shifts in the timeline often to highlight a moment that everything changed for Josie or Vic. Told from both their perspectives it is a beautifully written story of both grief and healing. Josie and Vic are relatable characters and one underlying theme is the love that the two siblings have for each other. They are each other's rock and work to keep the other centered and grounded in moments of extreme duress.
I was moved by the events of this novel over and over again, I really felt the emotional ups and downs. I'm not ashamed to say that a few times I cried. Thomas does a marvelous job of painting these events and characters so that you feel like you are in the moment with them. The fact that the defining moments of their lives are things we can all relate to and understand on some level makes it even more intense I think. It becomes clear that change and adaptation are important parts of the story, and each character makes monumental growth in embracing this change. It is an emotional ride from which I am going to need some time to recover, but it is really something that needs to be read and experienced I think.
"One thing I've learned, life has a way of turning things upside down and inside out. When your head stops spinning, you just get your bearings and see where you fit, where you belong."