“No, Ivy, I don’t. I don’t love them. I’m not going to lie and say I do,” Nick tells Ivy in Carre Armstrong Gardner’s novel, "All Right Here." Part of the Darling Family series, this four hundred and one pages paperback targets those interested in current day fiction involving foster children, family relationships, and marital problems. With no profanity, sex, or violence, topics of alcohol, bigotry, and infidelity would not be appropriate for immature readers. The end of the book contains acknowledgments, the author’s biography, and a dozen discussion questions. In this tome set in Copper Cove, Maine, twenty-seven year old Ivy Darling is married to thirty-two year old Nick Mason. Keeping her maiden name during six years of marriage, she knows a wedge has developed between her husband and her since she is unable to have children. With both sides of their families wanting her to get pregnant, it makes matters worse when she does not get along with Nick’s mother or sisters. When a family rents the dilapidated house next door, Ivy is thrilled yet Nick remains cautious as three African-American children from teen to tot are locked out of their home one day. With their mother nowhere to be found, the three kids willingly stay at Ivy and Nick’s house, waiting to hear from their parent. In the meantime, Ivy falls in love with fourteen year old DeShuan, nine year old Jada, and Hammer, who is only six. But Nick wants little to do with them. As time passes, DeShuan has to stand up at school being the only black in attendance, while Jada wants to learn the violin and Hammer excels at basketball. Growing closer to those in her charge, Ivy wonders when Nick will realize the damage done in how he treats everyone and how to restore love in the home. While Nick rejects anything to do with a future raising the three, Ivy separates herself from the marriage as his family criticizes her every movement and motive while her family deals with sibling competition. With sporadic prayers to God, the minutia of everyday living, and often backbiting and fighting, this book may be absorbed by readers seeking a story where marriage can survive only if choices and decisions are made willingly. Thanks to Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. for furnishing this complimentary book in exchange for a review based on the reader’s honest opinion.
Family, Love, and Drama, So Well Written: This book was hard to put down. The characters were so real that I was rooting for them and hoping they would realize how to relate to each other. The family dynamics made me laugh and cry with empathy. All of the characters were well done, and each of the kids was especially loveable. Even though it seemed dropped in her lap, the situation helped the main character grow and mature, along with her husband. I am very impressed with everyone’s reactions to their challenges. The humor was gentle and the story was clean. Milo was a great character. I enjoyed this very much.
With no children of their own, Ivy Darling and her husband, Nick Mason, become foster parents to three neighbor children who were abandoned by their mother. But Nick’s refusal to forgive Ivy for their biological childlessness fractures her resolve to hold their marriage together amid the challenges they face as a foster family. As Ivy distances herself from him, possibly forever, Nick discovers the pain of withholding forgiveness and love, and realizes that he must act before it is too late. A compelling start to Gardner’s new, sure-to-please Darling family series, this is an honest and delicately navigated novel about the realities faced by foster families, particularly multiracial ones, as well as the issue of forgiveness in marriage. The Christian theme is conveyed through the use of open prayer, church involvement, and biblically based values. Gardner writes with raw insight as she creates a distinct voice for each character to express his or her emotions, which together result in a beautiful journey that is both heartbreaking and hopeful.