Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Book Review: All Right Here by Carrie Armstrong Gardner

Sometimes you start reading a book, and within the first few minutes you just know you've found a good one.  That was how I felt when I started reading All Right Here by Carrie Armstrong Gardner.  I think it's her first novel, since I couldn't find anything else written under that name.  Let me just say it was incredible!
All Right Here is the first novel in the Darling Family series.  Leander and Jane Darling have five children: David, Ivy, Laura, Sephy and Amy.  They are a very close-knit family, which some see as a blessing, and others as a curse.  Ivy Darling is married to Nick Mason, but she decided to keep her maiden name (which is a thorn in the side of her mother-in-law).  They are unable to have children of their own, and over the years Nick has grown to resent, and even hate Ivy for this.  When three black children are abandoned in the house next door, Ivy and Nick decide to take them in as foster children.  Ivy falls in love with DeShaun, Jada and Hammer almost right away, but Nick holds back.  He doesn't believe that he can love children that aren't his.  Nick and especially Ivy are thrust head-long into parenthood, and the results are often comical.  From potty training and PullUps to vomiting in a mixing bowl, Nick and Ivy have to learn about kids the hard way.
When Ivy confronts Nick about his indifference to her, and he admits his anger about their childlessness, Ivy decides that she is done trying to be happy in this marriage, and she stops doing things for Nick and tries to make herself happy.  About the time Ivy gives up on love in her marriage, Nick realizes it's what he wants more than anything.  He realizes just how much he does love Ivy and the kids, and he hopes he can win her back.  But Ivy may have gone to far for him to be able to ever claim her love again.
This is a great novel.  Not just a great first novel, but a great novel all around.  I read it in about a day, because I wasn't able to put it down.  At first I was a little annoyed with Ivy, because I thought the author was trying to portray her as the perfect wife and Nick the neglectful husband.  But the more I read, the more I discovered that wasn't the case.  Ivy had her own issues that she had to work through, the same as Nick.  I fell in love with DeShaun, Jada and Hammer, and found myself hoping that their mother never came back!  Nick's family  was a constant source of irritation, though.  Even though Ivy always let their cruel remarks and criticisms roll off her back, I wanted Nick to stand up for her. 
I thought this book ended a little too fast.  I wanted to see more of a reconciliation between Nick and Ivy.  Even though it does appear that they've mended fences by the end, I hoped for a little more.  I assume the next book will follow Laura Darling (Ivy's twin), who had struggles of her own in All Right Here and moved to Phoenix at the end of the book.  I can't wait to find out what's going to happen to her in her new life.  I do hope that I get to find out a little more about Nick and Ivy and the kids in the rest of the series, too.
Even though this is a brand new series, and I only "met" the Darling family two days ago, I have a feeling I'm going to like them a lot!  I hope Ms. Armstrong Gardner doesn't wait too long to write the next part of their story!

Happy ~Summer~ Reading!

I was given a copy of this book in exchange for my review.  All opinions are my own.

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