Eleven-year-old Roz (Rosalind) Anthony and her family have just moved to Mills River, Illinois, to escape an abusive situation. Only days after settling into their new home, they are surprised to find the previous owner, Tillie Monroe, on their front porch reading the newspaper. Though her sons have sold the house and sent her to a facility for the aged, she is determined to die in the place she lived her life, and somehow manages to find her way “home” day after day. Feeling sympathy for the elderly woman, Roz’s mother allows Tillie to move back in.
Mara Nightingale becomes Roz’s first friend in Mills River. In spite of their many differences, the girls discover they have something in common that binds them together–both are hiding secrets. So they make a promise–“cross my heart and hope to die”–never to tell anyone else.
When danger stalks the Anthonys, Tillie exhibits unimaginable courage and selfless love in her determination to protect the family she has adopted as her own.
I am VERY stingy with my five-star reviews. I only give them if a book immediately captures my attention and makes me want to keep reading until the end (and the book MUST have a satisfying ending). Most books lose me at the 2/3 or 3/4 mark, but this did not. I didn’t hesitate to give this book a five-star review.
DISCLAIMER: I did not read the back cover copy before I bought this book because so many back covers end up misleading the reader, which makes for a bad reading experience. I think that was a good decision, because some reviewers said the book didn’t live up to their expectations. I had no expectations, so nothing about it disappointed me. It’s way outside my normal reading preference (lighthearted romances), but I really couldn’t put it down.
Tatlock has mastered what so many authors try to do (but often fail at): fabulous, appropriate descriptions without going overboard; quick character empathy; drama/comedy balance. It really surprised me how much I enjoyed this book! I’m looking forward to reading more of her books in the future.