4 out of 4 stars
Share This Review
What Lies Ahead by Marci Henna is the second installment in the Fireside, Texas series. It follows When We Last Spoke, which is the first book. The series tells the story of Juliet Cranbourne and her younger sister, Evangeline. As children in the 1960s, the two girls are raised by their grandparents, Walt and Ruby Cranbourne, after their mother leaves and their father is killed in Vietnam. The book portrays life in a small Texas town, telling simple memories of childhood in the South, where everyone knows everyone. Grandmother Ruby, along with Ruby's sisters Sapphire and Pearl, form a country music group called the Gemburree Sisters. During one part of the book, they even head to Nashville and sing at the Grand Ole Opry with Minnie Pearl. Back in Fireside, young Juliet continues entertaining the locals through their radio station, where she tells stories, plays songs, and advertises the talents of her grandmother Ruby and the Gemburree Sisters. After that, more events are told that bring to the reader the heart-warming feelings of Fireside, Texas.
The author has a very strong talent for bringing forth the feelings and emotions that accompany life in a 1960s small town. So many times as I was reading, I felt like I was right there with the Cranbourne family. The phrases and character descriptions all intertwined to form a perfect picture of this lovable, picturesque town. Themes of love, family, endurance, and forgiveness were all woven throughout the book. There was somewhat of a coming-of-age theme with Juliet, being that she was in her pre-teen years. In so many ways, she was figuring life out, yet she still possessed the innocence that kept her from fully understanding certain family secrets. For example, the situation surrounding the birth of her cousin Jewel, who was born to Juliet's Aunt Pearl, was confusing to Juliet. She did not really understand much about the father, or why Aunt Pearl suddenly had the new baby when she returned from Nashville. As the reader, it was entertaining to see Juliet's innocent point of view on many adult situations.
The characters of Walt and Ruby were so lovable and would be reminiscent for readers who have spent time with grandparents in their childhood, especially in a southern town like Fireside. I fully enjoyed all of the main characters and other townspeople. Each one brought a genuine heart-warming light to the plot.
Another aspect that I enjoyed was the manner in which the characters were first introduced. I also read the first book so that I could get familiar with the characters, and Juliet was first portrayed in the present time, many years after the majority of the story takes place. Both books brought the reader to the present, when Walt and Ruby have passed away, and memories are being shared which brings the story back to Juliet and Evangeline's childhood. Every moment was so well-crafted, and everything flowed together so well.
I was thoroughly engrossed in this story, and I intend to read both books again in the future. The book is well-written and edited, and the author has great promise with this series. I hope many will read this series and see the same wonderful themes of family and small-town love that I did. I am rating it 4 out of 4 stars. While fictional, the town of Fireside, Texas leaves a warm, realistic feeling of childhood in my heart.
What Lies Ahead (Fireside, Texas)
View: on Bookshelves | on Amazon