For Lily, a high school heartbreak had given her few reasons to be fond of seeing her hometown, and trips to Sterling Wood were as short and infrequent as she could manage. All that changed quickly, though, with the death of her Uncle Jimmy. Suddenly reconciled with her high school sweetheart while dealing with her grief, Lily becomes involved in a mystery with decades old origins, and twists that will change almost everything she knows about her family. Unshakable love, senseless murder, and shocking secrets will all be uncovered to rattle the small town of Sterling Wood.
Homecoming by Charlene Johnson is equal parts enduring love story and twisted murder mystery. Sterling Wood is depicted as the typical small town, full of people who are happy to stay and continue the status quo. Lily is the one who made it out, becoming a successful photographer with her own business and high profile clients. Her short trips home to visit family are in large part a means of avoiding Luc, the high school love who broke her heart. When she has to return for her uncle’s funeral however, she knows it will be a longer visit, and soon, years of misunderstanding are washed away and the two are an item again. It only takes a little longer than that before it becomes clear that someone has malicious feelings toward both Lily and her family.
Love, family, and maybe more accurately, what makes a person family, are the themes that are constantly revisited throughout the book. The idea of a small town that breeds intense friendships and well as deep seeded resentments is a common one, and Johnson does well to create her own version of it here. She uses a variety of concepts that can be found often, but infuses enough originality and backstory to keep it fresh.
The book quickly delves into an engaging and well thought out mystery. Many of the characters represent common personality tropes. While Lily is presented as fiercely independent and successful, it quickly becomes clear that most, if not all, of her motivations are driven solely by her past issues with Luc. Even when she returns to Sterling Wood and begins to uncover her family history, Luc stands as more of a driving force. I felt the the other characters in the book were interesting and well developed in comparison to Lily.
The compelling mystery at the heart of this enchanting novel kept me turning pages and I was very eager to find out the next twist. Although I would have enjoyed a deeper dive into Lily’s character, the big reveal at the end was well worth the read.
Pages: 270 | ASIN: B085SZP4B1