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Serious Story With A Sense of Humor

  • May 12, 2010
Greg and Libby's marriage began its slow decline three years ago with the death of their twelve year old daughter, Lacy. Unable to heal from Lacy's death, they eventually grew apart--Greg no longer knowing how to reach Libby and Libby no longer wanting to be reached. When Greg didn't return from a solo canoeing trip in the Canadian wilderness, the authorities' assumption was he had decided to leave their marriage. Needing to know for sure he'd abandoned her, Libby, Frank (Greg's Father), and Jen (her best friend) decided to retrace Greg's path through the wilderness in hope of discovering if he'd left her or if he's dead. As they began their trip, Libby's not sure which she'd prefer. Would she rather him have left her or died? Honestly she's having a hard time caring, especially since, she was planning to leave him.

They Almost Always Come Home is not so much of a story as a journey. It's a trip through the past and the present searching for hope in the future. This journey of hope is in the midst of grief combined with fragmented relationships and unfailing friendship. There are infinite amounts of material in this book to praise from its simple beauty to its haunting emptiness. This is not a book to be read and set aside, but rather absorbed and contemplated or perhaps discussed among friends or in a group setting. It is a deep, rich book and one I highly recommend.

I've read several books that include the death of a child and they typically attempt to capture the strain on a relationship in the depths of the parent's grief. They also try to help the reader feel the agony of the parents as they weep for the child they've lost. Some are able to accurately capture those moments and present them to the reader. This is one of them. It was pure in its emotions and simple in its presentation. Until experiencing the death of a child, one can never really understand it, but this book came pretty close to immersing the reader into those agonizing moments.

Thankfully Ruchti included a healthy dose of humor. From subtle comments to blatant remarks, this is a story that takes the edge off the situation through humor. Much of the humor will be appreciated by women more than men. In fact, this book in general is definitely geared towards women. I'm not sure many men could identify as easily with the interworking of Libby's mind. It felt feminine all around and worked very well in that regard.

Central to They Almost Always Come Home is hope. Hope they will find Greg, but also hope Libby can reconcile to God. Grief often is accompanied by a rift from God. All those questions that one would like answered often gets in the way of seeing things the way God does. This book doesn't offer answers, which I appreciate. Instead it takes the reader through the journey of one woman's struggles with God. It was the perfect approach for this novel and executed perfectly.

This is a great book, there's no question about it. It was beautiful in numerous ways and a pleasure to read. From the opening scene where Libby is planning her husband's funeral through the gut wrenching agony of the unknown, this is a magnificent story. To quote the ever insightful Larry the Cucumber, "I laughed. I cried. It moved me Bob."

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More They Almost Always Come Home reviews
review by . June 03, 2010
"They Almost Always Come Home" is a Christian general fiction novel with a lot of suspense. The characters were interesting and complex, and they dealt with realistic problems. The world-building was excellent, especially for the wilderness trip. The story came alive in my imagination, and it felt like these events really could have happened.    The first thirty-two pages were mostly Libby thinking about her situation and doing little but worrying about the various possibilities …
About the reviewer
Melissa Willis ()
Ranked #207
A little bit about me. I read primarily Christian fiction. My favorites are suspense, with supernatural elements always being a plus. I most enjoy books that will keep me thinking well after I'm done … more
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In Ruchti's debut faith-based novel, Libby and Greg's marriage is sputtering in the wake of their daughter's death. Libby's thinking about leaving—until she's faced with the prospect of becoming a widow when Greg fails to return from a solo trip to the Canadian wilderness. As Libby, her best friend Jen, and father-in-law Frank go after Greg to bring him back or learn his fate, Libby also learns about herself, family, and faith. It's a great premise, and Ruchti has enough energy to make the suspense last for just about the whole book, even as she unpacks the marriage troubles in the background and the character interplay among the searchers in the foreground. A lot of readers will like Libby, who is flawed enough to be humble and teachable; a few might find her brittle and defensive wit (rocks with bad toupees of lichen) a little much. Libby's friend Jen, however, is improbably saintly. Crisp dialogue propels the story forward unobtrusively. Ruchti shows imagination and promise.(May)
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ISBN-10: 1426702388
ISBN-13: 978-1426702389
Author: Cynthia Ruchti
Publisher: Abingdon Press

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