Friendships Make A Difference

Ah, the summer of ’69.  I think there are a few of you reading this who might just recall what life was like in your hometown that particular summer.

Stay (2019) by Catherine Ryan Hyde is a coming of age story where you will first meet Lucas Painter as a 14-year-old as he tries to read a letter from his brother Roy who was in Vietnam.  The letter had been redacted to the point it was impossible to piece together.  The final line of the letter read: “You just can’t unsee a thing like that.”  Lucas becomes quite concerned about Roy.

Lucas heads to Connor’s house.  He and Connor have been best friends since they were 3-years-old.  Connor has his own issues.  As opposed to the constant fighting and yelling that goes on in the Painter’s house, Connor’s parents do not talk.  His house is always quiet and dark with curtains always closed.  Lucas worries about Connor because he always seems to have a black cloud over his head.

Sometimes even hanging out with Connor got to be too much.  That is when Lucas headed for the woods.  Hardly anyone ever went into the woods.  Lucas had been warned over and over to never to into those woods for fear he would bet lost.  He did.

In his wanderings Lucas came upon a log cabin.  There he was surprised by two very large dogs.  He took off running and so did the dogs.  Until Lucas tripped and fell.  The dogs seemed to be enjoying the run so Lucas got back on his feet and headed back towards the old cabin.  Lucas felt different from that point on.

That folks, is just the end of the first chapter.  You have yet to meet the owner of the dogs and the cabin, and neither had Lucas until the day he noticed something unusual about how the dogs were acting.  Lucas walked up to the cabin and saw deep scratch marks on the door.  He knocked, he shouted, and then took a peek in a window.  There he saw a woman lying on the bed.  He raced home and called the sheriff’s office.

The lady, Zoe Dinsmore, did not want to be saved.  She is a former bus driver and the most hated person in town.  The townsfolk have never forgiven her for falling asleep at the wheel of the bus.  Two young children died in that accident.  Zoe has never forgiven herself.  She felt so quilt ridden that she isolated herself in the cabin years ago.

Lucas, Connor, Roy, and Zoe all have something in their lives that needs to be healed, be it friendships, depression, addiction, forgiveness.  Healing does begin to make headway in each of their lives.  They eventually find self-worth, caring, and redemption.  How does this happen?  You will just have to read Stay, this gentle, caring tale written by the same author who gave us Pay It Forward.

One thing about the Covid quarantine, it has afforded me more reading time. Most every book I read during this time period I have enjoyed.   Another pleasant read I came across is Tapestry of Fortunes (2013) by Elizabeth Berg.  This is another one where you can curl up and enjoy while seated in your favorite surrounding.

Tapestry of Fortunes follows four women as they take a road trip from St; Paul to Cleveland.  They can all thank Dennis for planting the seed of this trip in CeCe’s mind.  Who is Dennis?  You will find out.

Cecilia Ross is an excellent motivational speaker.  Too bad she does not follow her own advice.  It was not until her dear friend Penny passed away that CeCe began thinking it was time for a change in her life.  Then she received a card in the mail that set her on that journey to change.

Penny had once told CeCe to “Use your skills here instead of all over the country, slow down, open yourself to love, and give back in some meaningful way.”  And CeCe begins to take that journey when she puts her house up for sale.  She then found a room for rent in a house that had a big front porch, a chef’s kitchen, and a garden area that needed tending.  And, three other women lived there.  CeCe was accepted and the four women and Riley, the resident yellow lab, click right away.

Renie, the youngest of the four, offers to help CeCe move the few things she plans to take to her new place.  You will learn that Renie is living with a memory of a mistake she made as a teenager.  Lise, the owner of the house, is divorced, a doctor, and clashes with her 20-year-old daughter.  Joni is a widow and a chef at a high-end restaurant whose boss who is a real jerk.

The initial purpose of the trip to Ohio is so CeCe can meet up with her first love, Dennis, who has never left her heart. He is a world traveler and she has not seen him in years.  One by one the other women find a reason to join the road trip.  Their adventure in support of CeCe connecting with Dennis begins.

Along the way you will learn more about what makes each woman tick.  And, how they have handled the regrets in their lives.  Penny is still very much a part of CeCe’s life.  As is CeCe’s box of fortunes which comes in handy when it comes to making decisions.

Tapestry of Fortunes was a pleasant way to spend time.  Yes, it was somewhat predictable and maybe a bit unrealistic.  Nothing wrong with imagining life could be like that.  Personally, I imagined friends of mine taking a road trip, a shopping trip, or maybe even joining in on selecting the perfect tattoo.  Enjoy Tapestry of Fortunes.

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