Book Review: Going Home
Currently Unavailable for Purchase from AALBC
Book Reviewed by Idrissa Uqdah
Home Is Where The Heart Is
Evelyn Palfrey is an author who writes romance novels. The unique thing about her books is that she writes romance for the "marvelously mature". Her characters are are not young hot studs or sexy vamps but real mature folk that older readers can relate to. Her books also usually have an added twist, a little mystery and mayhem. I've enjoyed all of her novels and was happy to find this one was first released as an e-book. So here is my first review read on my Kindle.
Thalia Allen is a woman who has finally retired from her government job and was looking forward to traveling and enjoying her many outside interests. Just when it was going to be all about her, she finds herself raising her teen-aged daughter Mishay. Mishay is the daughter of Thalia's only child, a son and a woman who never lived a stable life as an adult. Mishay's father is a long-distance driver with no real home to call his own so Thalia is really all the child has in the world. A good Christian woman, she is determined to give Mishay a proper upbringing. Mishay is determined to work her Nana's one last nerve in the process and Thalia is having none of that.
Set in Austin, Texas after Hurricane Katrina; Thalia takes Mishay with her to volunteer at the shelter the City of Austin has set up as temporary housing for the evacuees from New Orleans. Much to Mishay's dismay this is no one time deal. Knowing that her grandmother means business; the teen-ager takes on her duties with a vigor that makes Thalia proud of her.
It is here that Thalia meets New Orleans native, Joe Lambert, a proud man who is not used to taking hand-outs. Forced to leave his home and his construction business, he finds himself in at the shelter at the Civic Center in Austin. All Joe is interested in is finding work to earn enough money to go back home to New Orleans and salvage his life. Thalia offers to pay Joe to do some odd jobs around her house and he grudgingly accepts. He never expected that this offer would eventually change the course of both of their lives and lead them both to true love and a ready-made family.
I just loved this story. The author pulled me right in. Thalia and Joe were characters that I could believe and characters that I could believe in. I was very impressed with how the author was able to get inside the head of a Black man who was both proud and honorable; just down on his luck. He was sincere; but complicated. Thalia saw past his faults and straight to his heart. Palfrey's portrayal of Joe was right on point.
Thalia's character was very real too. She was a Black woman that we all know. Thalia was your aunt, your cousin or your caring next-door neighbor. She was a woman alone who was not lonely. She had her share of mishaps with men and had settled into a life of her own that was satisfying. She had never thought twice about helping out another human being but she was no sucker either. When she invites Joe and his teen-aged "nephew" into her home, many thought she was out of her mind but she knew what she was doing and that was being led by the God in her. Just when everything seemed to settle down for them; all hell breaks loose.
I won't let the cat out of the bag. You want to read this novel for yourself. The story line takes several unexpected turns and Thalia proves that she is a strong woman, a good woman true to her convictions in life. Palfrey shows her readers the true story of what the victims of Katrina had to endure and how the tragedy of loss impacted on their lives. The plotting was perfect and the story moved seamlessly throughout the book. I was very impressed, so impressed that I read this book straight through and could not stop until the surprising ending.
Evelyn Palfrey is a good writer. Going Home is probably her best novel to date. Readers who aren't really romance readers will also enjoy this novel. It's a sweet simple love story but it also packs a punch about human suffering and life in today's uncertain economy. I highly recommend Going Home. It was one of my favorite reads thus far, this year.