Wednesday, June 23, 2021

UNDER THE MAGNOLIAS by T. I. Lowe, Reviewed by Rebecca Maney

It won't take you long to realize that Austin Foster could prove to be a diamond-in-the-rough kind of character, that while digging her out from under the heavy layers of her beginnings might take a fair amount of time and patience, the end result could be stunning. And she doesn't disappoint.
Tasked with virtually raising her six siblings after the traumatic death of her mother, Austin must also carefully side step the moods swings of a grieving father. Working on their family farm together during the best and worst of times only deepens her sense of futility . . . what if this was all that she would ever know, especially when the highly sought after Vance Cumberland, son of one of the most esteemed members of their community, continually offers Austin the gift of unconditional attention. But then again, Dave Foster, also the pastor of a most curious little chapel, could burst forth with impassioned, brilliant sermons . . . leading his little flock by example; one of genuine kindness for the brokenhearted, the misunderstood and the less fortunate.

But the bright and sunny days were always a foreshadowing of the dark and stormy days that were sure to follow. "The tobacco season, Pa, each of us Fosters . . . everything was rapidly unraveling. We'd not only reached our limit, but we'd all picked up some of Pa's symptoms and made each of them our own." Running didn't work. Hiding didn't work. What would it take to find hope "under the magnolias" once again?

"Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow, but woe to the one that is alone when he falleth . . . . " Ecclesiastes 4: 9,10

An authentic story, brimming with an eternal testament to the miracle of "healing ever after". 
* I purchased a copy and was under no obligation to provide a positive review.
BackCover Blurb: 

This night not only marked the end to the drought, but also the end to the long-held secret we’d kept hidden under the magnolias.

Magnolia, South Carolina, 1980
Austin Foster is barely a teenager when her mama dies giving birth to twins, leaving her to pick up the pieces while holding her six siblings together and doing her best to stop her daddy from retreating into his personal darkness.

Scratching out a living on the family’s tobacco farm is as tough as it gets. When a few random acts of kindness help to ease the Fosters’ hardships, Austin finds herself relying upon some of Magnolia’s most colorful citizens for friendship and more. But it’s next to impossible to hide the truth about the goings-on at Nolia Farms, and Austin’s desperate attempts to save face all but break her.

Just when it seems she might have something more waiting for her—with the son of a wealthy local family who she’s crushed on for years—her father makes a choice that will crack wide-open the family’s secrets and lead to a public reckoning. There are consequences for loving a boy like Vance Cumberland, but there is also freedom in the truth.

T. I. Lowe’s gritty yet tender and uplifting tale reminds us that a great story can break your heart . . . then heal it in the best possible way.
Tyndale Publishing, May 2021
Available in digital ebook, paperback, hardcover, and audiobook:
(Watch for this on Rebecca's Favorites list for 2021!)


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