After her mother’s death twelve years ago, Lynette Carlisle watched her close-knit family unravel. One by one, her four older siblings left their Nantucket home and never returned. All seem to harbor animosity toward their father, silently blaming him for their mother’s death. Nobody will talk about that dreadful day, and Lynette can’t remember a bit of it.
But when next-door neighbor Nicholas Cooper returns to Nantucket, he brings the past with him. Once her brother’s best friend and Lynette’s first crush, Nick seems to hiding things from her. Lynette wonders what he knows about the day her mother died and hopes he might help her remember the things she can’t.
But Nick has no intention of telling Lynette the truth. Besides the damage it might cause his own family, he doesn’t want to risk harming the fragile friendship between him and the woman he once thought of as a kid sister.
As their father’s failing health and financial concerns bring the Carlisle siblings home, secrets begin to surface—secrets that will either restore their shattered relationships or separate the siblings forever. But pulling up anchor on the past propels them into the perfect storm, powerful enough to make them question all they ever believed in.
“Sometimes it was easy to forget her mother had been dead twelve years.”
Catherine West’s latest novel The Things We Knew is one of those books that gripped me from the first page to the last, and when I had finished the last word I sat and soaked it all in.
The Things We Knew is blessed with a whole cast of compelling characters with strong personalities, the best and the worst of family in all its ragged glory. And while I was – of course – drawn to the relationship between Lynnie and Nick, perhaps the character that lodged the deepest in my heart is Gray. Lynette’s brother Gray, the troubled rock star, is at times in the story both the strongest and the weakest member of the family. As a matter of fact, that could be said about each of the Carlisle siblings. All of them harboring secrets, all of them fighting their own separate battles – emphasis on separate – but each one gets a moment where they stand strong for the others. Or in spite of the others. But Gray stayed with me, possibly because out of all the siblings I believe he is the deepest thinker and as such his scenes were some of the most touching and the most heartbreaking. I would love to see him get his own story at some point. Perhaps a prequel or even a follow-up novel?
…his thoughts drifted toward things he’d learned as a child. Faith. Mercy. Grace. Things he’d forgotten until recently.
The intricacies of The Things We Knew are unpacked layer by layer as Catherine West feeds us just the right amount for us to absorb before offering a bit more. She doesn’t sugarcoat the dysfunction but there is light on every page. Emotions run high, tensions run high, and regret runs high. But faith and mercy and GRACE run higher still.
And that is the exquisite beauty of Catherine West’s latest novel. While neither faith nor mercy nor grace come easy for the Carlisle siblings, these ARE the things they knew before their family became so fractured, their own lives so dysfunctional. These are the things they slowly come to know again.
Bottom Line: The Things We Knew is more than a story of family drama to tug at the heartstrings. It’s more than a mystery to unwrap. It’s more than a romance to savor. It’s more than a masterfully written piece of fiction. It is, in fact, all of those … but it is also a story rich with healing and honesty and hope. It is a novel that will hold you captive until you’ve finished the last word and one which will linger in your heart long after. This should be on everyone’s summer reading list! Or fall reading list! Or MUST READ SOON reading list. Or all of the above! Keep some tissues handy, but be prepared to smile and even laugh too. Most of all, be prepared to fall in love with Nantucket, with the Carlisle family, and with Catherine West.
(I received a copy of this book in exchange for only my honest review.)
My Rating: 5 stars / Fantastic!
KissingBook Level: 3 / may forget to breathe on occasion
Catherine West is an award-winning author who writes stories of hope and healing from her island home in Bermuda. Her first novel, Yesterday’s Tomorrow, released in 2011 and won the INSPY for Romance, a Silver Medal in the Reader’s Favorite Awards, and was a finalist in the Grace Awards. Catherine’s second novel, Hidden in the Heart, released in September 2012, was long listed in the 2012 INSPY’s and was a finalist in the 2013 Grace Awards. Catherine’s latest novel, Bridge of Faith, is now available on Amazon.
When she’s not at the computer working on her next story, you can find her taking her Border Collie for long walks or tending to her roses and orchids. She and her husband have two grown children. Catherine’s next novel, The Things We Knew, releases July 2016, through Harper Collins Christian Publishing. Catherine loves to connect with her readers and can be reached at Catherine@catherinejwest.com
Other Books by Catherine West
What about you? Does your family put the FUN in dysfunction or are holidays/reunions stressful for you?