Review: Stepping to a New Day
Why: When Literary Quicksand was approached about being a part of this book tour, I was intrigued by the publisher’s description (see below) of small town drama and having to learn a slower pace of life. Sometimes I miss the small town lifestyle where everyone knows and cares for their neighbors; where family roots are deep and traditions upheld.
In Henry Adams, Kansas, you can’t start over without stirring things up . . .
Many a good woman has had to leave a no-good man, but how many of them took a backseat to his six-hundred-pound hog? On her own for the first time, Genevieve Gibbs is ecstatic, even if certain people preferred the doormat version of Ms. Gibbs. Finding someone who appreciates the “new” her has only just hit Gen’s to-do list when T. C. Barbour appears in her life.
A tiny Kansas town is a far cry from his native Oakland, California, but it’s just the change T. C. needs. While helping his divorced nephew acclimate to single fatherhood, T. C. lands a gig driving a limo for the most powerful woman in Henry Adams. It’s a great way to meet people—and one in particular has already made the job worthwhile. All it takes is a short trip from the airport for Genevieve to snag T. C.’s attention for good.
But it wouldn’t be Henry Adams without adding more drama to the mix. When Gen’s ex Riley returns with his hog in tow, it sets off a chain of events that can ruin everything—unless the residents pull together once again to save the day.
The Story: As noted in the publisher’s description, the main character is Genevieve Gibbs. The novel maintains a handful of other plot lines about various residents of Henry Adams, but focuses on Gen as she navigates her hog-lovin’ ex-husband’s return to town, just as she begins to find her own, independent identity.
Everything in her wanted to slam the door in his face, but from somewhere inside came the reminder that she’d once loved this man. In tandem rose Reverend Paula’s teachings: kindness over rightness.
Opinion: When I started reading the first few pages of this novel, I quickly realized this was not my usual style of book. The writing is very simple and straightforward, with sentences that are easy to read and meaning isn’t buried in clauses, metaphors or convoluted timelines. Being that this is part of a series depicting life in Henry Adams, the opening chapters spend some time establishing the characters and prior relationships, but Beverly Jenkins does a good job hooking new readers by keeping the plot moving during this introduction.
The depth of development is relatively shallow yet, again, that’s to be expected in a series where intricacies are layered across books, and there are a good number of overlapping story lines. To me this did not detract from the quality of the novel, but I did have a hard time not being a little cynical about some of the convenient, simplistic, or – in my eyes – unrealistic outcomes.
If all the smiles at the table were any indication his first morning as Uncle TC had been a hit. Later he’d drive down and fetch Ms. Gibbs, and he hoped that part of the day would be a hit, too.
Recommendation: I surprised myself with how much I enjoyed this novel. It is a wonderful, feel good story with positive messages that address modern issues. The themes of self confidence, self improvement and second chances are uplifting. This is a great book for readers looking for a quick, light hearted read with a happy ending – bonus points if you grew up in a small town! This won’t be as enjoyable for bibliophiles who desire plot tension and elaborate sub plots and undertones.
That he would trust her with his secret and have the courage to ask for her help only increased his standing in her eyes.
Journaling Prompts: (If you haven’t read any of my other reviews, I enjoy putting together a few questions about the book for those that have already read, or choose to read the book after viewing this post!)
- This novel directly addresses the idea of community. What words would you use to describe the Henry Adams community?
- How do you feel about the character of Clay? Is his role in Gen’s life similar or different to his role in Riley’s life?
- If you were TC, would you have the courage to tell your family and Genevieve about your literary deficiency?
- Why did Beverly Jenkins choose to focus on the stories of Reverend Paula and Eli in addition to Genevieve and TC?
- Describe the metaphor of Genevieve and Riley’s home, it’s destruction, and Genevieve’s new house.