Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for an honest review.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)
After a brief look over the blurb, I expected author Carol Grace Stratton’s debut novel, Lake Surrender, would be a nice enough story, and for much of the book, I did indeed think the story was nice—divorced, laid-off, single mother Ally trying to get her life together during a relocation to Michigan—but somewhere around the last third of the book or so, it started getting amazing to me.
Not only is the novel’s romance and suspense well-paced but so are the gradual changes in Ally’s outlook and desires. Oh, how I empathized with Ally’s urge to slap her preteen daughter Kylie during a stormy argument, and it would’ve been easy for the author to make the girl nothing more than an adolescent brat, but instead, Kylie’s heart and wits play some key roles in the novel’s plot and message of forgiveness.
Also, given that Ally’s six-year-old son Benjie is autistic, again, it would’ve been easy to make a reader pity him for his struggles and excuse all of his outbursts, perhaps a little harder to touch on a reader’s compassion for him, but to make Benjie an admirable character, someone to really root for, is something else. Benjie got me so pumped, I had to step away from the book for a few minutes and box with the air like Rocky Balboa. And what’s more, the way Stratton takes the novel’s theme of forgiveness further than pat or surface answers is challenging and beautiful.
I don’t usually praise the publisher in my reviews, but having read three novels to date from LPC (including Chasing the Butterfly and Under the Silk Hibiscus) and finding something not-so-run-of-the-mill about them, I’ll understate my thoughts by saying that somebody at that publishing house knows what they’re doing.