Renovating Life

Alicia Hall

3.5 Stars

August 8, 2012

As an architect, Bethany Quinn thrives on designing new buildings, but after the death of her grandfather, she is forced to move home and renovate her old life. Her most daunting task is the redesigning of former relationships: a forsaken best friend, a disillusioned mother, and a self-righteous preacher. Even more difficult is the handsome farmer, Evan Price, who just inherited her grandfather’s farmhouse.

Wildflowers for Winter by Katie Ganshert brings readers into a world of unresolved childhood betrayals and grief. From the first sentence which declares “The summer I turned twelve, I tried to kill myself,” the reader is intrigued with Bethany’s character and her painful childhood. However, the plot is somewhat predictable in the protagonist forced return to a hated hometown, but the reason is refreshingly friendship-centered not painful old romance. Robyn, Bethany’s former best friend, loses her husband just as Bethany gets back into town, and as Bethany grieves the loss of her grandfather, she if forced to help Robyn survive the grief of losing a spouse.

A highlight of the book is the unexpected story lines. The relationship between Bethany’s mother and a local preacher delves into the danger of legalistic religion and abuse of power. The need to understand Bethany’s almost suicide encourages the reader to turn the page. And the reader’s desire for romance is fulfilled in the frustrating yet obvious attraction between Evan and Bethany.

In her debut novel, Ganshert brings together the pain of death amidst the hope of new life, both figuratively and literally. Just like Bethany, readers discover that renovations can be just as beautiful as an original.