Josie Mitchell ran away from the family apple orchard years ago, trying to escape past mistakes. On the strong request of her brother in law, she returns home to help save the apple harvest and to help her pregnant sister sell the family business.
Grady Mackenzie, the orchard’s new manager takes an immediate dislike to Josie, figuring she’s more trouble than help. Problem is no one, including Grady can figure out what’s driving Josie and why she’s always running. As Josie pushes herself to breaking point, she begins to face everything she ran from in the first place.
I found Sweetwater Gap in the specials bin at my local Christian bookstore. Intrigued by the blurb (the above paragraphs are not the book’s blurb), I snapped it up. It didn’t take me long to completely immerse myself in the apple orchard, the Mitchell family and the growing relationship between once-bitten-twice-shy Grady and perpetual runner Josie.
As these two clash and click over and over and as events begin to spiral out of Josie’s control, she finally faces up to the past and starts looking towards a future and it’s one she never saw coming.
The strength of this book lies with Josie and the secret that propels her to be anywhere but home, or anywhere else really for that matter. She flits from place to place, keeping no close friends and working at jobs she doesn’t love - all this in effort to forget what happened at her beloved orchard all those years ago.
I really feel Josie’s pain, guilt and anguish. I understand her desire to keep running and at the same time wishing she could stop running and just be happy, normal, safe.
Grady is a man wounded from past relationships and he finds his life’s passion coming full circle as the Mitchell’s orchard manager. He resents Josie’s presence and her willingness to sell her heritage off so easily. Over time, he begins to see Josie’s passion for the orchard, but as quickly as he sees it, it disappears again with Josie’s constant emotional and literal running.
Denise Hunter has given the reader characters and events that really resonated with me as a reader. I guess this is why I love this book so much. Josie comes across as a real woman, fighting her demons by not really living - in essence she is living a half-life. Hunter breathes life into Josie’s journey from half-life to full life - both within herself and with Christ.
An excellent book. One I plan on rereading for a very long time!!