THE THING ABOUT HOME by Rhonda McKnight
GENRE: Dual Timeline Southern Fiction (Christian)
PUBLISHER: Thomas Nelson
RELEASE DATE: May 9, 2023
Home is not a place—it’s a feeling.
Casey Black needs an escape. When her picture-perfect vow renewal ceremony ends in her being left at the altar, the former model turned social media influencer has new fame—the kind she never wanted. An embarrassing viral video has cost her millions of followers, and her seven-year marriage is over. With her personal and business lives in shambles, Casey runs from New York City to South Carolina’s Lowcountry hoping to find long-lost family. Family who can give her more answers about her past than her controlling mom-slash-manager has ever been willing to share.
What Casey doesn’t expect is a postcard-worthy property on a three-hundred-acre farm, history, culture, and a love of sweet tea. She spends her days caring for the land and her nights cooking much needed Southern comfort foods. She also meets Nigel, the handsome farm manager whose friendship has become everything she’s never had. And then there are the secrets her mother can no longer hide.
Through the pages of her great-grandmother’s journals, Casey discovers her roots run deeper than the Lowcountry soil. She learns that she has people. A home. A legacy to uphold. And a great new love story—if only she is brave enough to leave her old life behind.
“. . . a beautifully written story about family, self-discovery, secrets, and forgiveness.” —Kimberla Lawson Roby, New York Times bestselling author
“The thing about home is, it’s not a place. It’s a feeling.”
I wasn’t too far into The Thing About Home before I regretted not having read Rhonda McKnight’s work sooner! Just look at some of these quotes that I highlighted –
- “You’re a Black woman. That means your DNA is made up of survival genes.”
- “Besides, you seem like someone who’s looking for somewhere to be.”
- He hesitated, reading my face, which had to be in large print.
- “A lie shouldn’t make your heart its home.”
- “Unprepared soil never grows a good harvest… You have to make your heart good ground for the next season of your life.”
- She felt like love, hope, and a good macaroni and cheese rolled together.
- “God gives us wisdom to do, not just words to believe.”
- “Reclaiming what was lost to us is different from visiting what was stolen.”
I loved the rich rhythm of McKnight’s writing voice, the warmth of her characters, the nuggets of wisdom tucked away between the pages, and the engaging plot that quickly had me unable to put down the book. Most of these quotes can be attributed to – or about – Granna, the 99-year-old matriarch of the Black family in Georgetown, South Carolina. She’s feisty and full of life, insightful and intuitive, a woman of great grief, great joy, and great faith. I need a whole other post to talk about how much I loved Granna, but suffice it to say that meeting her dramatically changes Casey’s life and deeply touched mine. At least one of the quotes comes from Great-Grandmother Odessa’s journals – another element of this story which impacted my heart. The perspective of Odessa and Elijah’s lives during Reconstruction and the years beyond is one that I didn’t learn about in school – it’s one that Casey herself didn’t learn about – but it’s one that everyone should know.
Speaking of… Casey Black is experiencing every big-name influencer’s worst nightmare. Minutes before her live-streamed vow renewal, her husband Drew says he’s not going through with it and leaves her, her marriage, and her career in shambles. I think most of us would say our worst nightmare is the part about the marriage being in shambles, but for “Casey B” it’s the implosion of her career in the aftermath that seems to shake her the most. And therein lies the disconnect that Casey needs to work through on her journey to discover where she came from – and where she’s going from here. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Casey right away. She’s sassy and fun and successful. But I also saw an emptiness in her, even in the few short pages before everything falls apart, and a self-focus that tends to occur when the main brand you’re promoting is yourself. It’s also what makes her character growth across this novel so meaningful and rewarding for readers.
And then there’s Nigel. Whew, goodness, that man is swoonilicious. And not just his killer good looks that Casey couldn’t help but drool over. It’s in the way the author writes him. A suppressed strength – a suppressed sensuality, even – that gives him a constant simmer as he moves through the story. The sparks fly when he’s on the page, even when he’s just sitting there all alone lol. And when Casey and their mutual attraction are in the mix – wowza, just keep a fan handy for your own safety. Don’t want you to overheat when they get to kissing! There were a couple of times when I thought it was about to get spicier than I prefer but the author keeps things chaste without sacrificing any heat.
Bottom Line: The Thing About Home by Rhonda McKnight took me through a range of emotions as I stayed completely absorbed in this story. I laughed, I swooned, I cried, I got angry, I got humbled, I wanted to purse whomp some folks (mainly Casey’s mom), I wanted to hug many more folks, I got hungry (all that yummy Southern cooking – YUM), I got educated, and mostly I just fell in love with the Black family and their amazing farm. Casey’s journey from brokenness to wholeness is compelling and, while I wished her Granna’s faith had been more personal for Casey herself (because I don’t think she can be truly whole without Jesus) I was moved by how she ‘turned the soil’ in her life. A lovely and touching story with insight that will linger.
(I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the publisher. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.)
My Rating: 4.5 stars / loved it!
KissingBook Level: 4 / keep those fans & fainting couches handy!
Rhonda McKnight is the author of 27 books. The Thing About Home is her latest release. She has also written several award-winning bestsellers, including An Inconvenient Friend. She is the winner of the 2015 Emma Award for Inspirational Romance of the Year for her title, Unbreak My Heart. She has been nominated thrice for the African American Literary Award. She writes inspirational book club fiction and Christian romance stories about complex characters in crisis. Her goal is to touch the heart of women with the themes of faith, forgiveness, and hope. Originally from a small coastal town in New Jersey, she writes from the comfort of her South Carolina home. Connect with Rhonda at her website.
What about you? What makes you want to read The Thing About Home by Rhonda McKnight?