Kate Vaughan’s life looks like it’s finally coming together. Her clothing boutique is doing well; her relationship with her long-term boyfriend, Rowan, is going so well that it seems like they are ready to take the next step. In fact, Kate knows Rowan is ready after she spies an engagement ring hidden in his drawer. But why does this discovery fill Kate with dread rather than joy? She knows it has to do with her past --- and how it keeps invading her present. Her mind often drifts back to her old boyfriend, Jack, the one to whom she pledged her love back when she was 13 and made a wish on the moon. Things in the past still seem so unsettled, so maybe a trip to Birmingham, Alabama, to see Jack one last time is just the thing to finally put her past where it belongs --- in the past.
"Once again, the low country of the south provides the backdrop for this emotional story of hard choices, bitter regret and hopeful redemption. Henry’s warm, inviting writing appeals to readers of Dorothea Benton Frank, Joshilyn Jackson and Mary Alice Monroe, and, like her earlier novels, will be a great source of intriguing discussion for any book club."
But the best-laid plans of mice and men, as they say, usually blow up in our face. Kate and Jack’s past was so much more complicated than your typical teen romance. The pair dated through college, and when Jack began law school, Katie wanted to find her own passion in life; she “wanted to be something and someone different than she was…. She wanted to be a girl with purpose and a meaning.” She found just that in her work at Winsome Wilderness, a camp for troubled teen girls in Arizona, where she decided to spend the summer while Jack prepared to start his law studies. But a few months turned into a year, and then a few months more. Despite his pleas to come back east, Katie felt divided in her loyalties to Jack and to the girls who needed her.
Jack made his feelings quite clear: “The way I love you blurs all the lines and ways I could love anyone else…. Having you and not having you is terrible.” She loved him more than words, but these girls had no one else, especially Lida, who’s been abandoned by everyone in her life. What would happen if Katie left now? In spite of their strong bond, Jack feels as if their relationship has run aground and begins dating someone else. By the time Katie realizes she’s pregnant, Jack is already married to Maggie. She is bereft and makes the difficult decision that will haunt them both for the rest of their lives. Thirteen years later, a simple Facebook request brings the past very much into the present, and both Jack and Kate (who has left the girlie name “Katie” in the past) have to face each other and their choices. Can you truly move forward if the past is in your way?
Patti Callahan Henry once again revisits the fertile ground of regret in AND THEN I FOUND YOU. She didn’t have to look very far for her inspiration. No further than her own family, in fact, as her own sister’s story provided the grist for the plot. Once again, the low country of the south provides the backdrop for this emotional story of hard choices, bitter regret and hopeful redemption. Henry’s warm, inviting writing appeals to readers of Dorothea Benton Frank, Joshilyn Jackson and Mary Alice Monroe, and, like her earlier novels, will be a great source of intriguing discussion for any book club.
Reviewed by Bronwyn Miller on April 11, 2013