Jackie McMullen prides herself on being a strong woman. As a nurse in the military, Jackie has seen the worst of the worst during the time she spent in Afghanistan and dealt with it head on. But when her beloved husband Jimmy, a firefighter with the NYFD, dies in the line of duty, she and her 10-year-old son, Charlie, need the support of family to help them bear the burden of their intense bereavement.
"PORCH LIGHTS is the perfect title for Dorothea Benton Frank’s lovely novel.... There's something unexplainably appealing about the warm nights and gentle breezes that can be experienced only in South Carolina."
Jackie decides to pack up and head to Sullivans Island for the summer where she'll take comfort in the presence of her indomitable mother, Annie Britt, and revel in the healing power of the sand, sea and surf. She also hopes that a sense of family and some seasonal fun will draw Charlie out of himself and bring him back to the carefree boy he was before the loss of his father.
Although Jackie's dad, Buster, no longer lives in the family home, he and her mom are still married and share a strange affection that makes sense only to them. That makes it all the easier to involve her dad in Charlie's healing process. As the family reunites in the Lowcountry of South Carolina, they rediscover their love for one another during the course of everyday events. Walks on the beach, delicious meals, and nights on the porch watching the waves all contribute to their moving forward.
Steven Plofker, a good-looking doctor who lives next door to Annie and hires Charlie to walk his dogs each morning, is a diversion for which Jackie is not sure she's quite ready, but can't completely resist either.
As the end of the summer draws near, Charlie's adamant desire to stay on Sullivan's Island creates conflict with his mother's plans to return to New York City. Will Jackie be able to persuade her son to return to the life they once knew, or will Charlie win the battle and sway his mother to begin life anew among family and friends?
PORCH LIGHTS is the perfect title for Dorothea Benton Frank’s lovely novel. In spite of the tragedy that has befallen Jackie, the warmth and love of family and the slow-paced lifestyle that's a million metaphorical miles from fast-paced New York City beckon to the reader as much as they do Jackie and Charlie. There's something unexplainably appealing about the warm nights and gentle breezes that can be experienced only in South Carolina.
Despite the slow pace of the Lowcountry lifestyle, the action never lags. The story is told from the alternating viewpoints of Annie and Jackie, pushing the plot line forward and encouraging people to continue reading to see what happens to these lovable characters by the end of the book.
Reviewed by Amie Taylor on June 15, 2012