Willow is desperately hungry for clues to the family life that preceded her, and especially Polly's life pre-Willow. Why did she leave her hometown of Bethel, Louisiana, fifty years ago and vow never to return? Who is Garland Jones, her long-ago suitor who possibly killed a man? And will Polly be able to outrun the Bear, the illness that finally puts her on a collision course with her past?
My take: 3 looks
This was a good summer book. Light, funny, and not a lot of reading effort required. With seven books to her credit, several of which are on my TBR, Hepinstall is a solid member of the fiction world.
To write about a young girl (Willow) so preoccupied with the death of her aging mother (Polly) was a little bit of a stretch for me. After all, I was a young girl once, and I know that an obsession about death is pretty far from the typical preteen's mind.
On the other hand, I like the treatment she gave to Willow's older brother and sister. They were introduced on the periphery and the reader gets to know them both as they weave in and out of Polly and Willow's every day lives. It was the perfect way to see quirks, likes, imperfections, and finally, the love they both have for the matriarch of the family. Digging a bit into the personal lives of each, but only as deep as you would as an outsider looking in, there really was a nice balance to their characters.
Add a variety of colorful neighbors, a brother's childhood friend who returns to their lives, and a dog who can smell cancer in people, and you have a pretty good ride. It's not high literary fare, but it will hit the spot.