Review: Mornings on Main by Jodi Thomas

Mornings on MainWhen Jillian James lands in the small town Texas community of Laurel Springs, she’s definitely not planning to stay–except to find a few clues about the father who abandoned her and destroyed her faith in family.  Connor Larady is a single dad, and the only one caring for his grandmother, Eugenia, who has Alzheimer’s. And now he has to close Eugenia’s quilt shop. When Connor meets down-on-her-luck Jillian, he’s out of options. Can he trust the newcomer to do right by his grandmother’s legacy?   Jillian is done with relationships. But as she grows closer to Connor and Eugenia, she must consider giving up her nomadic life for a future with those who need her.

Review. Text on the string. Conceptual 3d image

Source: Netgalley          My Rating: 5/5 stars

Jillian James has always lived by her father’s rules: don’t stay too long in one place, don’t get involved, never draw attention to yourself, and pack only the essentials when you leave.  Jillian has never known another type of life, never wanted another type of life, until recently. 

For the last ten years, since her father abandoned her, Jillian has been completely alone.  In the first few years, Jillian relished the freedom, the ability to pack up and move on a whim, to go where the winds would take her, to enjoy her brief stay in each new location.  In recent years, however, Jillian has felt more alone than ever before and has begun to retrace her father’s steps in an effort to learn more about the man who raised her only to callously abandon her. 

As with every other town, the moment Jillian arrives in Laurel Springs, Texas, she checks into inexpensive accommodations and begins her search for temporary employment.  Wandering along Main street seems to be her best bet for employment and isn’t long before Jillian finds what she’s been looking for, a help wanted sign.   Within minutes, Jillian has negotiated a solid salary for the completion of a project in the local quilting shop.  During her tenure, Jillian is to help Eugenia Larady, proprietress of the local quilt shop, catalogue and photograph all her quilts so they may be transferred to the county museum as a part of a permanent installation.

Little does Jillian know, her time with Eugenia will change her life in the most profound ways . . . .

Connor Larady has spent his life in the service of others.  As a member of one of Laurel Springs’ oldest families, Connor’s roots run deep.  He and his family own most of the land in the area, they own several businesses, and Connor serves as mayor.  When he isn’t working, Connor cares for his teenage daughter, Sunnie, and his beloved grandmother, Eugenia.  Of late, Eugenia has needed more looking after than in previous years as her memory isn’t what it used to be.  It is for precisely this reason Connor intends to see the cataloging of the quilts completed.  With Jillian on board, he’s confident the completion of the project will happen in short order. 

Little does Connor know, his time with Jillian will change his life in the most profound ways . . . .

Though neither can explain the attraction, Jillian and Connor are drawn to one another.  Though their time together each day is brief, that time is the most cherished of each’s respective day.  Through Eugenia and Connor, Jillian learns about the history of Laurel Springs, her people, their lives, and the stories the small town has been built upon.  For the first time in her life, Jillian begins to understand what it is to belong somewhere, to be important to the people around her, and to want to stay put, establish roots.  Unfortunately, the idea of staying is completely foreign to Jillian and she insists, from the very beginning she will be leaving town.

The Bottom LineMornings on Main quite took me surprise and once I got involved, I simply couldn’t put this book down.  This isn’t just a book about a small town, a community of friends and family, but a narrative about love, friendship, the spirit of community, of history.  Jillian is such a lost soul and though she doesn’t immediately recognize it, Laurel Springs is exactly what she’s been missing for the entirety of her life.  In Laurel Springs, Jillian finds answers about her past, a family who willingly and lovingly welcomes her into their fold, and a place where she can finally settle, stop wandering.  Though Connor plays a huge part in Jillian’s life, Eugenia is really the focal point of the story.  It is through Eugenia that several characters, including Jillian and Connor find closure, recall some of their most important life moments, both happy and sad, and understand the importance of their role in both the history and future of Laurel Springs.  There isn’t any great threat or big bad in this read, no hugely climactic moment.  What Mornings on Main is, is a wonderfully written tale of a family, a small town, and the past crashing into the present in the most wonderful of ways.

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