An emotionally moving story with themes of forgiveness, healing and redemption, Together With You was a wonderful book. The story also delves into Fetal Alcohol effects, and I thought the author did a great job of informing in a manner that was part of the story and didn’t bog it down with details.
Plot: Ryan Tremaine has made his share of mistakes, having an affair that resulted in a broken marriage, two teenage sons that he can’t connect with and a young Special Needs daughter, Penny, who suffers from Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. With his ex-wife on an extended trip out of the country and Penny’s mother’s death, all three of the kids are under Ryan’s care for the summer. Seeing it as his chance to unite his broken family, Ryan creates a ‘Sink or Swim’ List of things to do with the kids. When Penny goes missing at the mall, she turns up in the store where Carly Mason is working. When Ryan arrives and sees how well Carly relates to Penny, he knows she’s just the person he needs for Penny’s nanny. Convincing Carly of that is going to be a little harder, as Carly’s made mistakes of her own that leave her wary of getting involved.
To be honest, I didn’t like Ryan very much at first. After all, he’d cheated on his wife and he was a little pushy with Carly, trying to hire her as a nanny. As the story progressed, the genuine love he felt for the kids and the sincerity of his effort to be the dad they need helped him worm his way into my heart. Carly, on the other hand, was immediately likeable, as she had a great manner with all the kids and quickly shows she’s smart and there’s a lot more to her than first meets the eye.
This is the first book I’ve read by Victoria Bylin, and I’ll definitely be looking for more of her stories. Together With You was very enjoyable reading, full of substance and conflict. The characters were flawed, hurting and made mistakes, but they learned their lessons and grew throughout the story. It’s told mostly through Carly and Ryan’s perspectives, but the author shows a few scenes from Penny’s point of view, which I thought really helped to show the effects of FASD and how differently Penny thinks.
Recommendation: I’d strongly recommend reading this book to anyone who enjoys fiction with a deeper message. There are so many lessons to be learned from this story. It really made me think about how quick we are to judge children’s behavior and blame parents, when often, as with Penny, the behavior stems from deeper issues that can’t be seen.
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
I received a copy of this book from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review.