Second outing with David Baldacci was a very pleasant and, should I say, a very surprising experience. As I have already expressed in my book review of his book that I read earlier (Deliver me from evil), I picked up his books due to the thriller component and was pleasantly surprised with a book on complex subject of relationships. Relationships, as I see it, is something very complicated to write about – and he has written a whole book on it. I am very happy with the change in my reading patterns.
The story is about the Armstrong family and their tryst with death – Jack Armstrong (father) is dying due to a disease with days to go for his death. His wife Lizzie, his better half, is by his bedside and has always supported her husband through thick and thin. Their kids – Michelle (16 yr old and the eldest one) , Cory (not entered into his teen age as yet !!) and Jackie – he is still a toddler and the cutie. In dramatic turn of events, a day before the Christmas, Lizzie dies in a car accident – she has gone to take prescription medicine for Jack on a snowy night and never returns. Couple of days later, Jack attends her funeral instead. Lizzie parents, Fred & Bonnie (mother in law), take kids in their own custody. Jack is left on his own with sick patients around him – and is readying himself to die in peace. A miracle unfolds in which Jack Armstrong starts healing and starts feeling stronger every day until the doctors give him a clean chit. Once he is up and running, he gets his kids back from Bonnie.
Story becomes interesting when he decides to fulfill Lizzie’s last wish of taking the kids along to Palace – a large family house in Channing. That is what makes Jack decide to spent his summer there. Sammy, his best friend and business mate, decides to join him during the summer – same with the kids. No sooner than he lands up in Channing than he starts loving the place and its people. Enter one Miss Jenna – hot, rich and owner of a successful restaurant and an accomplished lawyer. Michelle, the problematic child, hits it off with Liam, Jenna’s only son, due to their common interest in music. During this time, Jack seems to be ignoring Jenna’s not so obvious advances on finding the right guy. Jack is always busy thinking about Lizzie and starts working out on the lighthouse which Lizzie use to visit as kid and became obsessed with it. To put a break on family’s happy times, Bonnie – Jack’s mother-in-law, is not be able to live without the kids and is incessantly worried about Jack’s medical condition which is nothing less than a miracle. So much so that magazines catch up on the story and start calling him ‘the miracle man’. Bonnie files a case in court to take custody of his children for the fear of the Jack’s medical condition which can return and be fatal leaving the kids without a parent. When court rules that kids will be in custody of Bonnie until decision comes through, it is devastating for the kids, especially, for Michelle. When the cops come to take her she runs of and, exactly at that moment, a storm is about to hit Channing. Her father leaves no stone unturned to find her and gives it his best shot and finds her alive ,before she dies from drowning. What saved her was the lighthouse Lizzie use to visit as a kid. Father and daughter unite bringing tears to everyone’s eyes present during the situation. As a result, Bonnie decides to withdraw her case and the whole Armstrong family is united once again.
It is a very light hearted story talking about relationships which are complicated to deal in everyday life – like managing a teenager, Michelle, without understanding her, as father was away in Army for many years. Taking car of a toddler, Jackie, who is growing up and needs support at every moment of his life. And last but not the least, Jack himself has to deal with massive changes in his life – his own near death experience, Lizzie’s untimely death and his mother-in-law breathing down his neck to return the kids. This book certainly teaches us a thing or two about how unpredictable life can be and how its ups and downs can be productive to complex relationships. The book has its own breathtaking, thrilling and happy moments which are sure to bring a smile to your face. I recommend reading it for book lovers who love books on relationships. I rate it a 3.5/5