When I lived closer to the city, I was in a good book club and I miss that. One of my friends talked me into coming to her book club(a group that alternates inspirational and mainstream fiction) and while I liked the people, this book didn't quite do it for me. I guess it got me thinking, but I can't say it was a book I loved. The good: - Writer has a definite voice and an appealing sense of humor - Even though this book has a "big city heroine returns to small town" plot, there's a believable reason for the return. Maggie's family truly does face a crisis, and her father is at wit's end dealing with Maggie's dysfunctional sister and the effects that her mental illness has on Maggie's niece. - Related to that, Maggie has some hard choices to make with regard to her family and her agonizing over them is shown pretty realistically. Likewise, Maggie having to face who she was in high school and how hurtful she was to a lot of people makes for painfully real and awkward reading. - Maggie really does grow throughout the book and since she had some very serious issues to work through, it was satisfying to see her make progress even if some of the circumstances frustrated me(see below.) - I liked how Maggie's niece, Riley, was written. I've worked around at-risk kids and Riley seemed pretty authentic.The bad: - When it comes to Maggie's choices, there aren't too many shades of gray. If she gives up everything to stay in her screwed-up, economic dead end of a small town, then she's being a good girl. If she doesn't throw away that filmmaking career, then she's a terrible,selfish person. Apparently, the idea of Maggie taking her niece and fitting this unquestionably needy child into her own life doesn't occur to anyone. This gets better and changes somewhat toward the end of the book, but by then I had pretty well had it with all the guilt-tripping that gets dished out to Maggie. - Ivy, Texas sounds awful and I wasn't convinced that anyone in their right mind would want to live there. It sounds like the main economic engine for the town is a factory that's about to close, so why not go where Maggie has a job? I didn't see the virtue of living in Ivy. Also, why was just about all of Maggie's old high school class still living in Ivy? The town doesn't seem to have much of an economy, so I would have expected at least some of these folks to seek their fortune elsewhere. - Maggie's sister is obviously mentally ill, her family sounds pretty dysfunctional, and yet there seems to be a running thread of blaming Maggie for leaving town, getting an education, and trying to build a life. I can buy that Maggie wasn't as compassionate toward her family as she could have been(and perhaps should have been), but the complete lack of understanding for all that Maggie herself had gone through frustrated me quite a bit. - Maggie is an educated woman with a career, ergo she can't cook. I'm so tired of this ridiculous cliche that I could scream. For the record, I'm a full-time trial attorney and guess what? My family actually likes me and I've never given them food poisoning. Shocking, I know.So, there you have it. I can't quite join the parade of rave reviews, but the book did have some good points even as it sometimes frustrated me. One last note: As you can probably tell from the title, the inspirational content in this novel is more overt than in many I've read. I thought it was worked into the book well, and I suspect that readers who like these sorts of themes will enjoy it and those who don't, won't.