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review 2016-09-16 04:10
Return to Crutcher Mountain (Cedar Hollow Book 2) - Melinda Clayton
Return to Crutcher Mountain - Melinda Clayton

In Return to Crutcher Mountain, Melinda Clayton travels back to Cedar Hollow, West Virginia, to further the tale of Jessie, the troubled, abused girl who was adopted by Billie May Platte in Appalachian Justice. Jessie is an adult now, and has created a successful career in Hollywood as a movie producer. But she still has problems with trusting people -- including the man she's currently seeing.

After Billie May died, Jessie inherited her mountain land. There, she has founded a center for children with developmental disabilities. And now she's called back to Cedar Hollow because of some problems at the center -- problems serious enough that the center might have to close. In rescuing the facility, Jessie may find healing once again, this time with the help of a little boy named Robby who's staying at the center.

Clayton tells her story with a sure hand. Robby's first-person sections are cute, but not overly so. I spent a good chunk of the book rooting for him and hoping he would eventually be able to tell Jessie what he knew about her past. Jessie is properly worldly and self-assured, yet vulnerable. There's a plot twist toward the end that was totally plausible, and the ending seemed to hold promise for everyone.

I'm highly recommending the whole four-book Cedar Hollow series, which Clayton recently released as a box set. You don't have to read them in order -- I didn't -- but readAppalachian Justice first. It explains Billie May's back story, which is key to a full appreciation of the rest of the books.

Source: www.rursdayreads.com/2016/09/return-to-crutcher-mountain-cedar.html
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review 2016-08-26 02:19
Shadow Days (Cedar Hollow #4) - Melinda Clayton
Shadow Days (Cedar Hollow Series Book 4) - Melinda Clayton

Shadow Days was a tough, but ultimately cathartic, read for me.

The main character is Emily Holt, a widow living in Florida whose sons are away at college. On the anniversary of her husband's death, Emily gives into an impulse to flee. She gets in her car and drives away, wandering aimlessly, until her car breaks down on a winding mountain road. The sheriff's deputy who picks her up takes her to the nearest town -- which happens to be Cedar Hollow. There, Emily begins to find her way out of her complicated emotions, and she also finds a way to tell her sons the truth about their father's illness.

Clayton has created a realistic portrait of a woman with a loved one who's suffering from mental illness. Emily's husband, Greg, was manic-depressive, and she spent the vast majority of her marriage covering for him in one way or another: finding him work, dealing with his behavior and his medical needs, and raising their children pretty much by herself. To compound matters, she strove to shield the boys from all knowledge of Greg's illness.

Without going into detail, I'll just say that I identified with Emily in a lot of ways. I was in tears more than once. And I was heartened that Emily's story might eventually have a happy ending.

Shadow Days is available both on its own, and as part of Clayton's Cedar Hollow omnibus. All four novels are highly recommended, but I think this one might be my favorite.

Source: www.rursdayreads.com/2016/08/shadow-days-cedar-hollow-4-melinda.html
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