Friday, August 03, 2007

Return to Me

We are leaving for camping today. Mom took the kids up with her on Wednesday, but Jesse had two major projects due for school, and I'm still trying to recover from my medication. Plus on Monday I got the flu and spent two days in bed shivering and aching. We look forward to this trip all year long; it's our only real vacation. We go up to Stephenson, Michigan on the UP to a campground called Shaky Lakes. We camp on a strip of land between two lakes so there is water on three sides. Yesterday an otter swam up to our little beach while Mia and cousin Kenzie were swimming. He's become a frequent visitor, even allowing everyone to see him eating a fish while swimming on his back. We wake up every morning to the sound of loons and the most beautiful sunrises. The sunsets too are spectacular, every one a postcard. The adults relax while the kids runs wild. We gather around the campfire at night, and yes, we really do sing the silly camp songs. Then we all retire to our tents to sleep in the true quiet of nature. No TVs, computers, no electricity. The one flaw in this paradise is that the bathrooms are 300 yards away. Today once we get up north, we're all going to the DeYoung zoo, which has got to be one of the most fabulous zoos on earth. The kids get to hold and pet the baby animals. It makes for great photos.

Return to Me by Robin Lee Hatcher is the story of the Burke family: Roxy and her sister Elena and their father Jonathan, plus Elena's fiance Wyatt. The story is the prodigal son from the chapter of Luke in the Bible, and Hatcher has lifted almost completely the story to good effect. Roxy burned her bridges behind her when leaving to be a big star in Nashville, including leaving her boyfriend Wyatt. She threw her money all over town living the good life but was unwilling to put in the work it took to make it in the business. She soon finds herself broke and broken. A voice tells her it's time to go home, so she swallows her pride and heads back to Idaho. In the meantime, Elena has been running the family business with her father, and Elena and Wyatt have fallen in love. He has just proposed to Elena when Roxy returns home. Wyatt and Jonathan welcome Roxy with open arms, even more so when she opens her heart to Jesus. Elena can't help but be angry at Roxy's reception and starts to resent her father and mistrust her fiance. Hatcher does a remarkable job of capturing each character's mind with accuracy. Elena's anger rings true, and even as you are frustrated with her blindness toward her sister, you can't help but empathize with it. We've all been in that place where we feel it's our responsibility to punish someone for their actions. Roxy and Wyatt both struggle to figure out where their hearts lie. The characterizations are strong, even if their an occasional plot point that isn't. It's a good, solid read.

Well, Jesse's getting antsy, so it must be time to go. We'll be back on Sunday.