Friday, March 18, 2011

Already Home by Susan Mallery- Couldn't put it down!

After nearly a decade as a sous-chef in a trendy eatery, Jenna is desperate for a change. She's supported her ex-husband's dreams for so long that she can't even remember her own. Until she sees a for-lease sign near her parents' home and envisions her very own cooking store.
Her crash course in business is aided by a streetwise store manager and Jenna's adoptive mother. But just as she's gaining a foothold in her new life, in walk her birth parents—aging hippies on a quest to reconnect with their firstborn.
Now Jenna must figure out how to reconcile the free-spirited  Serenity and Tom with her traditional parents, deal with her feelings for a new love interest and decide what to do about her ex's latest outrageous request. In the end, Jenna will find that there is no perfect family, only the people we love…. (Synopsis from Barnes &

Susan Mallery has written a wonderful story about families, love and loss. Jenna is a chef who has lost her confidence in herself,  in a large part to her soon to be ex-husband.  He has thrown away their marriage, cheated on her, and bullied her into believing she is a lousy chef. She moves back to her Texas hometown and impulsively decides to open an exclusive cookery store- Grate Expectations.  Fortunately for her, she hires Violet to be her first employee. Violet has had to make some tough choices to survive and she too has a low sense of self esteem. She has the retail skills that Jenna lacks and comes to the rescue when uber structured Jenna's first day goes awry. The two women work together, begin again, and make a success of the business. Jenna, who is adopted, is thrown for a loop when her birth parents make an appearance in her store with no advance warning.

From that point on a large part of the story becomes one about the  issues of adoption from all of the sides- the birth parents, the adoptive parents and the person in the center of it all. Ms. Mallery skillfully lets us into the feelings of all three parts of the triangle, good and bad. Just when you think things are going a little too sweetly, reality bites!  Jenna and Violet have to deal with their  issues about families, relationships and their own self worth.  They move forward and then old patterns of behavior/fears hold them back.

Jenna has too much family to deal with- two sets of  parents and  new siblings, while Violet has her issues with the lack of family in her life. There is joy and sadness in both of their lives but they work through it. I liked the strong friendship that developed between them and how they were able to open themselves up for  new love in their life on many levels.

I can always count on Susan Mallery for a good read and this book does not disappoint.  Have your tissues ready- you will need them. There are some pretty yummy sounding recipes at the end of the book as an added bonus.

Library note: this book will be available at RPL after March 29 and will be shelved in the new paperback section.  We have several other books by Susan Mallery in regular print ,large print, and as audiobooks on CD.

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