When two estranged sisters reunite for their parents’ 50th anniversary, a family tragedy brings unexpected lessons of hope and healing amid the flowers of their mother’s perennial garden.
Eva—known to all as Lovey—grew up in Oxford, MS, surrounded by literary history and her mother's stunning perennial gardens. But a garden shed fire and the burns suffered by one of her best friends seemed to change everything. Her older sister Bitsy blamed her for the fire—and no one spoke up on her behalf. Bitsy the cheerleader, Bitsy the homecoming queen, Bitsy married to a wealthy investor. And all the while, Lovey blamed for everything that goes wrong.
At eighteen, Lovey turns down a marriage proposal, flees from Oxford and the expectations of attending Ole Miss, and instead goes to Arizona—the farthest thing from the South she can imagine. She becomes a successful advertising executive, a weekend yoga instructor, and seems to have it all together. But she's alone. And on her 45th birthday, she can't help but wonder what's wrong.
When she gets a call from her father—still known to everyone as Chief from his Ole Miss football days—insisting that she come home three weeks early for her parents' 50th wedding anniversary celebration, she's at wits end. She's about to close the biggest contract of her career, the one that will secure her financial goals and set her up for retirement. But his words, "Family First," hit too close to home. Is there hope for her estranged relationship with Bitsy after all this time?
Eva's journey home, to the memory garden her father has planned as an anniversary surprise for her mother, becomes one of discovering roots, and truth, and love, and what living perennially in spite of disappointments and tragedy really means. Eva thought she wanted to leave her family and the South far behind . . . but she's realizing she hasn't truly been herself the whole time she's been gone.
My Thoughts: Perennials is a book that I highly recommend. Cantrell weaves together a beautiful story of a woman's journey through pain, forgiveness and family and what it looks like to get on the other side of it all. I love that this book isn't easily explainable with answers as life often isn't. The characters go through unmistakable pain, which makes this book rich in plot, theme and character. Cantrell offers no easy solutions to the problems the character face. They are down right raw, real and frustrating In fact, in reminded me of family dynamics I have experienced in the past. This book doesn't disappoint, but you're going to have to go on a journey to get to the other side. If you enjoy fiction, you'll enjoy this book. This was my first read by Julie and I was blown away by her southern writing. I loved this book and all the gardening that came with it, and even it's Christian theme. I highly recommend this book. The pages will turn fast and you'll have tears in your eyes. I give this book 5/5 stars. A favorable review was not required. About the Author:
Julie Cantrell is an award-winning New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, teacher, and speaker. She has served as editor-in-chief of the Southern Literary Review and has earned starred reviews by both Library Journal and Publishers Weekly. Cantrell is a recipient of the Mississippi Arts Commission Literary Fellowship and was named a finalist for the 2017 Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Fiction Award. Perennials is her fourth novel.