Marnie Wittier has done everything she can think of to turn her life around and distance herself from the past. She moved from Maine to California without even a glance in her rear view mirror 15 years ago, and now runs a quaint coffee shop and bookstore. She fills her days with work and friends, trying to ignore the broken pieces of her heart. The first blow came when her mother abandoned 10-year-old Marnie and her sister Rose, leaving the girls to grow up in foster homes. The second one hit when she was 20, but rather than scarring, it left an unhealed wound she keeps hidden like the sad trinkets in her wooden box of regrets. For all the world, Marnie is doing just fine. Her façade works beautifully…until the letter arrives.
Marnie and her customers had just recovered from a 4.8 earthquake when she receives an envelope with a painfully familiar insignia: Taylor Cole. He was still in law school when they met, but that was a lifetime ago. The summer she gave away her heart…and never got it back. It was her choice to leave, but at the time, it seemed like the only choice to make. And in the 15 years since then, he had not contacted her. Until now. She can’t imagine what official business Taylor could have with her after all these years, but the first line of the letter quickly solves the mystery.
Dear Miss Wittier,
We regret to inform you that your sister has passed away.
And with that single line, Marnie’s life changes in ways she never could have imagined. For with Rose’s death, Marnie becomes the legal guardian of 15-year-old Emmet. Marnie grudgingly arrives at the airport, feeling unprepared and unqualified to be the mother of a teenager, but the boy she encounters takes that feeling to new heights. Emmet has Down Syndrome. He is loving and sweet, but more of a handful than Marnie can manage. Yet with each passing day, Emmet touches places in her heart she believed would never be touched again. But Emmet isn’t the only one affecting Marnie’s heart. Taylor’s renewed presence in her life is bringing back feelings that had been buried for 15 years. Can she and Taylor overcome time, distance and the pain that separated them long ago? Will unveiled secrets create insurmountable barriers between them?
Christy Award winner Marlo Schalesky delivers a poignant story of family loyalty, faith and true love. Her characters are charmingly flawed, drawing the reader into their hopes and dreams, disappointments and insecurities. Each one is awaiting answers to prayers, but those answers come in ways the characters, and even the reader, don’t always expect. It is one of those books where people are not always who they seem to be, and each chapter ending leaves the reader wanting more, right up to the powerful twist at the end. SHADES OF MORNING will definitely not disappoint.
Reviewed by Susan Miura on June 15, 2010