Title: Finding Me by Kathryn Cushman
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Genre: Contemporary, Christian, Fiction
Length: 337 pages
Book Rating: B
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
What would you do if you learned your life was a lie?
All her life, Kelli Huddleston has been told the story of a fire–a fire that killed her mother and two siblings when she was an infant. After her father’s death though, she uncovers evidence of a different story, including clippings about a boat accident that killed a young father and his infant daughter. And Kelli quietly realizes the story of her life has been a fiction.
How far would you go to discover the truth?
Armed with only a few pictures of what she thinks might be her family, Kelli crosses the country to Tennessee, determined to uncover the truth about what happened over twenty years ago in a small southern town. When the trip threatens to open doors to the past better left shut, and her plans for the future are jeopardized, Kelli is faced with an agonizing choice that will change her life forever.
Finding Me by Kathryn Cushman is a bittersweet novel that is also quite thought-provoking. This lovely story of faith, love, friendship and family also has a slight element of intrigue. Redemption, atonement and forgiveness are underlying themes as well.
Kelli Huddleston is still deeply grieving the loss of her stepmother and beloved father when she discovers information that casts doubt on her entire past. Led to believe her mother and siblings died in a fire in Louisiana, she is stunned to uncover evidence that her father faked both of their deaths and abandoned the rest of their family. Desperate to understand why her father would make such an inexplicable decision, Kelli returns to her birthplace in search of answers.
Kelli’s growing disillusionment with her father quickly turns to anger after she meets her mom, sister and his business partner. Learning more about the circumstances of the time leading up to his disappearance just increases her confusion and when she discovers the financial straits he left them in, she realizes that she really did not her father as well as she thought. Kelli wants to make amends for her dad’s misdeeds, but will her involvement cause more pain in the long run? Will admitting the truth about her identity cost her the relationships she is beginning to treasure?
Kelli remains conflicted for much of the story as she tries to reconcile the devoted father she knew with the man who callously deserts the rest of their family to begin a new life. She keeps her true identity hidden but her new friends sense something is not quite right about her reasons for coming to town. Kelli wants to get to know her mother and sister, but she is afraid that revealing the truth will cause more harm than good. As she becomes more and more involved with their lives, she begins to have serious doubts about maintaining a relationship with them once she returns to her regular life. An added complication is an unexpected romance and Kelli decides to run away from her problems instead of facing them head on.
Finding Me is an engrossing novel that has a gentle undercurrent of faith. The storyline is fresh and the conflict feels very real. The characters are three-dimensional and their reactions to the various situations ring true. Kathryn Cushman brings this moving story to a heartfelt conclusion is realistic and emotionally satisfying.