In Bringing Maggie Home by Kim Vogel Sawyer, Hazel DeFord was ten years old when her mother asked her to take her three-year-old sister, Maggie, to the blackberry thicket to pick berries for a cobbler. Hazel set Maggie down for just a moment while she chased a snake away from a baby bunnies’ nest. When Hazel came back, Maggie was gone. None of the volunteers could find a trace of Maggie besides her hair ribbon, shoe, and favorite doll.
Hazel felt incredibly guilty for leaving Maggie unguarded, especially while witnessing the downward spiral Maggie’s disappearance caused in her family. She resolved to be as good as possible so as not to cause them any more trouble.
When Hazel grew up and had her own family, she never told her daughter, Diane, about Maggie. She felt Diane would never be secure with her if she felt she couldn’t trust Hazel to take care of her.
But Diane resented and rebelled against Hazel’s perfectionism and over-protectiveness. Hazel’s concerns came across as controlling to Diane.
But Diane’s daughter, Meghan, loves her grandmother and spends several weeks with her every summer. Now grown and a cold-case detective, Meghan has survived a car crash with a severely broken ankle. She decides to go to her grandmother’s to recuperate and work on some photo albums for Hazel’s upcoming 80th birthday.
Jealous, Diane, decides to come, too, without being invited or letting anyone know. Meghan is wearied playing peacemaker between the two women.
Then an accidental discovery of a shoe box of old photos leads Hazel to tell her daughter and granddaughter the truth.
Meghan and her partner at work, Sean, decide to see if they can uncover any information about Maggie’s disappearance. With the case being 70 years older, older than any case cracked by their agency, solving it is a long shot. But they resolve to try.
I loved this book. I wasn’t sure I would at first, because Hazel’s and Diane’s bickering made me tense. Then I realized the problem was mainly Diane. Hazel’s issues were easier to understand and sympathize with. And Diane’s responses were understandable to an extent. But her bitterness and selfishness got to be a bit much. Still, I felt things would turn a corner at some point, so I persevered. I’m glad I did.
The point of view shifts from each of the women at different times in their lives, and occasionally to Sean’s viewpoint as well. I didn’t feel that the changing viewpoints, timelines, or locations were hard to keep up with at all.
I’ve often said that I appreciate Christian fiction that is unapologetically Christian. I know sometimes the message needs to be subtle, but sometimes subtlety turns into vagueness. It’s good to see an author getting down to the spiritual needs in a story without becoming preachy or beating people over the head with truth. I thought Kim did a great job both with the story and the spiritual issues underneath them.
I didn’t know, when I started this book, that it had a sequel: Unveiling the Past. I will probably be reading or listening to that some time soon.
I listened to the audiobook, nicely read by Barbara McCulloh. Unfortunately, the audiobook didn’t contain any back matter, so I am not sure whether any of the story was based on anything in real life.
I was just going to say that I hoped it wasn’t based on a true story since it sounded sad (at least at first)! I know what you mean about appreciating a book that can just unapologetically be Christian. I’m glad Diane toned down her bickering 🙂
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