Author: Steena Holmes
Series: Saving Abby, Book 2
Narrator: Em Eldridge
Published: February 2017, Brilliance Audio
Length: 6 hours 42 minutes
Twenty-year-old Abigail Turner has only known her mother, Claire—who died shortly after she was born—through letters, videos, postcards, and journals. Abby’s father, Josh, has raised his precious daughter himself, but his overprotectiveness has become stifling. Abby longs to forge out on her own and see the world after a childhood trapped indoors: she suffers from bronchopulmonary dysplasia, which means a case of the sniffles can rapidly escalate into life-threatening pneumonia.
But when Abby’s doctor declares her healthy—for now—her grandmother Millie whisks her away to Europe to visit the Christmas markets that her mother cherished and chronicled in her travel journals. Despite her father’s objections, Abby and Millie embark on a journey of discovery in which Abby will learn secrets that force her to reevaluate her image of her mother and come to a more mature understanding of a parent-child bond that transcends death.
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Steena Holmes offers a tender and heartfelt exploration of parental love and a daughter’s longing for connection in the poignant next chapter following Saving Abby.
My thoughts: I have recently become a big fan of Steena Holmes, having read and absolutely love two of her recent books, The Word Game and Saving Abby. I was ecstatic when I saw that she had written a follow-up to Saving Abby - that book hit so close to home for me for a number of reasons, plus it was just a beautifully written story about the family. Well, this one is equally wonderful and heartwarming.
I was so glad to once again get to spend time with the Turner family - I had grown so attached to Josh and Claire in Saving Abby that it was hard to leave them behind when I finished that book. Steena Holmes has such a gift for creating these amazingly dynamic, multi-dimensional characters - you feel as if they are people that actually exist in your life. That's how I felt about Josh and Claire, Abigail and her husband and so getting a chance to spend more time with them, and now Abby and Millie was awesome! Even though we only get to see Claire through the letters she has left Abby and Josh - it still feels as if she is there in person...I loved this! What a clever way to integrate her into the story!
This story is about moving on from the past. Having been sick all her life, suffering with weak lungs and knowing that a simple case of the sniffles can be life-threatening, life has not been easy or simple for Abby. She longs to travel, has that wanderlust that her mother had and yearns to travel to Europe, following in her mother's footsteps. That's the last thing her father wants, but now that she's been healthy for a year, and is an adult, she's on her way along with her grandmother, Millie. That's not to say that Josh is ok with this - traveling at any point is dangerous for Abby, and during the winter isn't necessary the wisest of decisions, but Abby longs to see the Christmas markets and walk in her mother's footsteps. Oh, how my heart was in my mouth the whole time they were traveling...one the one hand - I was loving living through their travels, but on the other hand, I kept waiting for disaster to strike and that one sniffle to happen. Excitement and dread in equal measures!!!
This is an emotional read as the journey is about self-discovery, secrets coming to light, learning to let go of the past as well as learning to face the past. It's also about love and family and the bond between parent and child. It's a heartwarming as well as heartbreaking story that will stick with you long after you finish reading it. I'm not sure if this is the end of this family's story or if Steena Holmes will revisit them again, but either way, I know this is an author that I plan on reading more of!!!
Audio thoughts: This is the first time I've listened to Em Eldridge narrate a book and I thought she did a great job with this story. She was able to give just the voice to Abby - not too much maturity, but not too babyish either and it was full of glee and excitement at times that was just perfect! The other voices was great as well. I really enjoyed this audio production and will certainly be looking to see what else Em has narrated!