Sunday, July 15, 2012
Coming Home - the Baxter Family Story Ends
Written as a conclusion to the tale of the Baxter family, Coming Home brings the Baxter clan back to Bloomington to celebrate John Baxter's 70th birthday. Every son and every daughter has made plans to be there; they've all thought through what their father has meant to them over the years and written heartfelt letters to express their love to the leader of this family. The family has dealt with their share of struggles and loss over the years, and have always managed to cling to God and to each other to get through. Will another heartbreaking tragedy be enough to break them, or will they continue to rely on God's great faithfulness?
There was a time where I made a vow to myself to never pick up another Karen Kingsbury book again. But the first series about the Baxter family - the Redemption Series still ranks as some of my favorite stories I've read. I am a sucker for the Baxter family, and when I saw that this was to be either a "conclusion" or an "introduction" to their story, I couldn't resist. I really wanted to see how their saga played out, but I wasn't sure that a book could serve as both an introduction and a conclusion. I was right to wonder - it really can't. The first 30% of the book was spent on catching the reader up on the Baxters' past, all six siblings' defining moments. At first, I thought it was a nice refresher - after all, it has been several years since I read the original series. I also knew that there had been several spin-off sets to the story that I had never read, so it was nice to catch up on who had how many kids and to find that Ashley and Landon were living in "the Baxter House" now. But 30% is a large section of a book to be retelling events that have already been written about, yet one hundred pages (give or take, I was reading the e-version) is not really enough to tell a new reader all of the heartache, struggle, and victory that Kari, Ashley, Brooke, Erin, Luke, and Dayne have been through. If a new reader picked up Coming Home, though, they would already know that Kari's husband dies, Hayley survivves, Luke marries Reagan, and other major plot points of the earlier series.
Once the book gets past the introductions though, the tears and grief hit hard and fast, and just keep on coming. I will not pretend that I did not cry through a very large portion of this book. I will absolutely not spoil the story for you, though, so I can't tell you anything about the tragedy. You'll need to be like me, and with every point-of-view switch wonder: is this the person who won't make it to the next chapter? I did hate that - I hated, from the perspective of feeling like I love this family, knowing that something major was going to strike one of them and not knowing who it would be.
Overall, I am glad I read this book. I was glad to "hang out" with the Baxters just a little bit longer. While I am very, very sad at the turn this book took, unlike some of the earlier books, I felt like there wasn't a moment where everything worked out just peachy for everybody. My only wish was that less time had been spent rehashing the past and more time was spent on the present and future of the family.
I have a hard time rating this book, but I'll give it 4 stars, just because I love the Baxter family so darn much. And isn't a character, or twenty, that stays with you the mark of a good book?
Karen Kingsbury's site can be found HERE.
I don't know if I recommend the entire 22 books of this loose series, but I do highly recommend the first five books, starting with Redemption.