3 out of 4 stars
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Georgia and her boyfriend, Jon, were invited by her friend Julie and her husband to go on a vacation with them to Hilton Head Island. Georgia was surprised how much it felt like home to her when they arrived, having never been there previously. While out riding her bike alone, she visits an ancient Gullah cemetery and encounters an old woman who chatted with her a bit. The grave she was sitting by was her grandfather’s, who had died mysteriously. Giving Georgia an amulet, she tells her, “Tek dis. It help you know wha’ tuh do.” The woman soon disappeared, leaving Georgia confused.
At a restaurant later, she noticed a portrait on the wall of the woman she met in the cemetery. Her waitress informed her that the elderly lady’s name was Bessie, and she had died almost ten years previously. Georgia showed the waitress the amulet that was given to her, and she acknowledged it was, indeed, one of Bessie’s. Georgia was even more puzzled. Why had Bessie appeared to her, and how was the amulet supposed to help her?
The Chances We Take by Annell St. Charles is listed in the historical fiction genre and takes place in the mid-1970s, mostly in Hilton Head Island and Nashville, Tennessee. It is the third book written about Georgia Ayres but is a standalone novel; however, there is something alluded to that will probably be answered in an upcoming book. The author started visiting Hilton Head in the late 1980s and owns a condo there now. She is very familiar with the region, which makes her descriptions of the area and foods authentic. This represents my favorite aspect of the story.
The story is told from the first-person point of view, from Georgia’s perspective. When the dialogue and narrative are in English, the writing is simple and easy to understand. However, when the Gullah dialect is spoken, it can be difficult to comprehend. The author has undertaken two things to help with this. First, she has a section at the beginning titled “A Message To The Reader” in which a history of the Gullah people and some general rules about the language are relayed. In addition, at the end of the book is a “Gullah-English Dictionary” with a list of the Gullah words that were used in the story. This helped considerably, but it was problematic going back and forth with my PDF copy. Reading a hard copy would have been much easier.
Several plots are encountered in the story: first is the story of Bessie, who wants the cause of her grandfather’s death to be revealed; next is the evolving love story of Georgia and Jon; last is the story of the Gullah people. The dominant theme is a person sometimes needs to take chances. Other underlying themes deal with friendship, love, and a willingness to accept others even if they are dissimilar.
The author’s descriptions draw the reader into the story, making them feel as if they are there. I really enjoyed this, especially the descriptions of Hilton Head in the 1970s. However, sometimes things not pertinent to the tale were given a lot of attention and detail, slowing down the book and making it occasionally tedious. This was my least favorite aspect.
Considering all the above, The Chances We Take achieves a rating of three out of four stars. One star was removed because it was occasionally tedious. Only a few minor errors were found, so I believe it was professionally edited. Readers who appreciate learning about Hilton Head Island and its history will enjoy this book, especially if they like a little intermixed mystery, paranormal activity, and romance. If you prefer fast-paced, thrilling stories, then you might want to look elsewhere. Some occasional borderline profanities and a couple of nongraphic sex scenes were seen. Subsequently, it wouldn’t be appropriate for children.
The Chances We Take
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