Compelling, heartwarming, and refreshing… An addictively readable tale of marriage and family ties…
A young couple confront their own strengths in the wake of impossible life circumstances in Ballard’s outstanding third installment in the Sisters of Stella Mare series. Rett’s husband, Harry, has been a stay-at-home husband and dad for a few years, but when he gets the chance to complete his Ph.D. with a renowned scientist, Rett is more than encouraging. She knows she can manage the kids and her job while Harry chases his dreams. But all her plans go haywire after Rett is abruptly put on leave under suspicious circumstances at the hospital. With Harry stuck in the wild of Manitoba, she finds herself navigating both difficult financial woes and treacherous emotional waters single handedly. For how long can she keep the worries to herself? Ballard describes the realities of her characters’ lives with a sympathetic but unsparing eye. All the characters depicted here, be it the major or the minor are fully human. Both Rett and Harry are standouts: Ballard draws the pair with care, particularly Rett, offering a window into her complex, determined, stubborn heroine, understanding her flawed humanity and the fact that she has always been a person who is used to being in in charge and doing everything by herself. The couple’s enduring bond is nuanced, particularly regarding how they try to keep each other from the unnecessary worries. There are small joys, solidarity, and companionship, but there are no easy solutions. Rett’s family’s lingering presence also gives the couple’s story poignancy and depth. The suspicious circumstances surrounding Rett’s job are enough to create tensions and suspense in the back, and Ballard deftly handles her layered plot, embedding surprising revelations into a third-person omniscient narrative that deftly maintains readers’ interest. The story’s pacing is impeccable, smoothly moving through the weeks until the things finally begin to fall in place for the couple. The settings, including the wilds of Manitoba and Stella Mare feel authentic, and the denouement is at once deeply heartfelt and tenderly life-affirming. The genius of this book is to capture how nothing is ever perfect and a marriage can be challenging, but when two people are connected at the heart, there’s no chasm deep and wide enough that they cannot bridge. A compassionate and deeply felt look at marriage, relationships, and the power of family.
A Home out of Ashes
Sisters of Stella Mare#3
Annie M. Ballard
Devon Station Books
Pub date June 7, 2023
Price $18.99 (USD) Paperback, $6.99 Kindle edition