By: Diane Lunsford
Publisher: Tate Publishing
Publication Date: June 2016
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: July 13, 2016
A daughter out of control, and a mother who desperately wants to help, sets the stage for a heartwarming novel by debut author Diane Lunsford.
Louisa and Jake Croft have a good life. They are happily married, have a nice life in Virginia and have two beautiful daughters. Kylie, their oldest, is a well-adjusted college student. Unfortunately, their other daughter, Dani, is a high school student who has fallen in with the wrong group of kids. She is rebellious, her grades have fallen, and since she's always on her cell phone, calling or texting a friend, she has pretty much forgotten how to have a real conversation, particularly with her patents. Oh yes, and the troubled girl also blames her parents for many of her problems. In desperation, Louisa, or Lou to her friends, decides that she and Dani will spend the summer at Echo Ranch, a spectacular working ranch in the gorgeous Colorado countryside.
Years ago, when Lou was a young woman trying to find her place in the world, she discovered Echo Ranch. The owners, Zack and Tessa Calhoun, welcomed Lou to their farm, provided she carry her weight and worked hard. Along the way, with the careful guidance of Zack and Tessa, Lou learned so many important life lessons. Now, twenty years later, Lou hopes that Dani too, will discover her true self at Echo Ranch. Deciding that it would be best for Lou to travel alone with Dani, Jake and Kylie stay in Virginia. Soon, Mom and a very angry daughter leave their home and embark on a long car ride, headed for the mountains of Colorado.
The car ride is indeed long, and most of it is spent in silence. Dani simply doesn't want to know. When they arrive at Echo Ranch, Dani is still an angry and confused young woman, but with Zack's wisdom, Tessa's support, and the love of a special horse who shares some of Dani's "issues," the girl's walls slowly dissolve. Fresh air, open spaces and the time spent away from texting and phoning friends is helpful, but it doesn't solve all problems. It isn't until Dani meets a young man who is attending a summer camp at Echo Ranch, that Dani starts to discover who she truly is. As the summer draws into fall, mother and daughter learn many important lessons that help to bring them closer.
It only took me a few pages to become thoroughly entranced with the story of Lou and Dani. With daughters of her own, the author writes about what she knows. In even the most loving of relationships, conflicts arise and resolutions aren't always easy to find. Making it more realistic, Lou learns that she too, has some issues to deal with, issues that have helped build those walls between her and Dani. The dialogue was crisp and believable and the descriptions so perfect that I could see the beauty of the ranch myself, and smell that clean, fresh air. Truly a wonderful debut novel, I can't wait to read the next offering from this author!
Quill says: An uplifting story about a mother and daughter who find themselves, and along the way find each other too.