From Net Galley preview:
Following her mother’s funeral, and on the verge of her own mid-life crisis, Anna Larson returns to the home of her youth to sort out her parents’ belongings, as well as her own turbulent life. This unique family home is situated on a picturesque coastal tributary and filled with an assortment of nostalgic memories. But Anna soon learns that more than just her past resides along the banks of the Siuslaw River; her future will be discovered there as well. For the first time since childhood, Anna begins to embrace her native heritage and river roots. She finds healing and hope, restores some old relationships, initiates some new ones, explores romance, and begins to grow into the woman that God intended her to be. By transforming her old family home into The Inn of Shining Waters, Anna creates a place of healing—a place where guests experience peace, grace, and new beginnings.

I received this book to preview from Net Galley as an advance copy for free. The book is set for release August 1, 2011.

What struck you the best about the book?
I’ve read several other books by Melody Carlson. This, like the others, presents the characters as normal, everyday people. Anna Larson is a woman who needs to find herself, her identity. For most of her life, she has lived under a forced identity given to her by others. Her mother-in-law is manipulative and cunning, making Anna believe she is not suited for anything more than a glorified servant. Melody shows Anna’s emotional journey from a crushed violet to a blooming, thriving flower. Anna struggles with her desire to stay in her hometown. Guilt over leaving her college-bound daughter haunts her. This internal conflict colors many of her actions and reactions to others around her. The external conflict is mostly centered around her finances or lack thereof. Both conflicts are subtle yet strong enough to give the reader a desire to see how the conflicts are resolved. Woven throughout is the flavor of Anna’s native heritage. Unique stories of the Suislaw tribe of Anna’s grandmother eventually help Anna reach a place where she can find what she’s been seeking.

What struck you the worst about the book?
It was difficult to wade through the first 50 pages of backstory. Much of it is repeated to others later in the book. It would work much better if the reader only received the parts of the backstory absolutely necessary at the beginning. The rest would easily fit into other parts of the story when Anna unfolds her past to her friends.

How did the story make you feel?
I appreciate the difficulties Anna faced concerning who she is and her place in life. I empathized with her desire to begin again, away from the place and people who smothered her. Her gradual growth into herself and understanding her worth in the eyes of the Lord gives the reader a sense of satisfaction at the end of the story. I am looking forward to reading the sequel which is already in the works.

Melody Carlson is the award-winning author of over two hundred books. She is the author of novels for both teens and women including Love Finds You in Sisters, Oregon, Limelight, the Diary of a Teenage Girl series, the TrueColors series, and the Carter House Girls series. Melody was nominated for a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award in the inspirational market for her books, including the Notes from a Spinning Planet series and Finding Alice, which has been optioned for production as a Life-time Television movie. Her adult novel, Homeward, won a Rita Award. She and her husband serve on the Young Life adult com-mittee in central Oregon. Visit Melody's website at www.melodycarlson.com.

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