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Things Left Unspoken by Eva Marie Everson

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Things Left Unspoken by Eva Marie Everson

Reviewed by Carol Kurtz Darlington

"...a great weekend getaway to the deep south without ever having to leave home."

Having just spent Memorial Day weekend at home reading Eva Marie Everson's novel Things Left Unspoken, I feel as if I'd taken a trip this holiday after all. She doesn't tell us immediately that the setting is Cottonwood, Georgia, but I felt that I was in the deep south from the beginning. She doesn't mention southern accents, but the dialogue naturally reads that way.

Jo-Lynn and her husband Evan are having problems. Telling the story in first person, Jo-Lynn sees their problems mainly as a mid-life crisis for Evan. But we can see that it might actually be more of one for her. She is regretting her agreement so long ago to forgo having children to please him. Her life as a trophy wife isn't enough anymore. She's taken a break from her job as a designer and gone home.

Her great-aunt and uncle's home in Cottonwood is the anchor of her family. She loves being there, even though it's the sad occasion of her great-uncle's death that brings her. Things are changing fast in Cottonwood. There are big plans to renovate the dying town and make it an attraction for new blood. They want to make the family home, “the big house”, into a museum, and Great-aunt Stella insists that Jo-Lynn be the one to renovate it. It's a great excuse for her to stay in town for a few months and avoid her problems with Evan.

But Jo-Lynn gets more than she bargained for, as she uncovers family secrets she never imagined. And it seems that someone doesn't want her staying in the house and digging around for secrets, putting her and the house in grave danger.

Flashbacks can be a quagmire for a novel, but in this case they not only make sense, but I was actually looking forward to the next one. Each one solidifies what's happening to Jo-Lynn and her family. Although it's possible to get caught up at times in a web of generational names, it does seem to be realistic for a small town such as this.

The family drama is dwarfed by the gravitas of racism against both Jews and blacks. But it doesn't seem to weigh down the plot. Real historic events from the civil rights movement are seamlessly woven in to portray what a southern family most likely had to grapple with, but the story remains contemporary.

The secrets her great-aunt thought for years would destroy the family could actually set them free. And as Jo-Lynn makes new friends (with the ubiquitous mug of coffee in hand) her perspective evolves, as she realizes the choices she's made were her own. She discovers the foundation on which her family is built, and in the process finds her way truly home. Things Left Unspoken is a great weekend getaway to the deep south without ever having to leave home.

Carol Kurtz Darlington is a certified personal trainer and a certified group fitness instructor who works with people who want to lose weight as well as those who just want to enjoy better health. She enjoys empowering and encouraging others to reach their health and fitness goals, feel better about themselves in the process, and enjoy more energy to stay active in all areas of their lives. She is the founder of Totally Fit With Carol, a Christian weight loss website featuring workout videos, health tips, exercise advice, and more. She loves her morning cappuccino and her beloved grand-dog. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling and haunting Starbucks.