In Under the Southern Sky, Kristy Woodson Harvey masterfully weaves four points of view together with a friends-to-lovers story of grief, second chances and deep generational friendship.
Amelia Buxton thought her life was on the right track. A successful journalist and reporter just published in The New York Times, and at the heels of a breaking story, she was at the height of her career. Also, she was engaged to a man who she considered her best friend, so her professional and personal worlds had fallen into place despite the ebbs of life. That is until she discovers that her marriage is not as she thinks it is, and what she’s investigating — the ethical management of abandoned embryos in storage — touches too close to home.
REGAINING PURPOSE WHILE HONORING MEMORY
Parker Thaysden is still deeply mourning his late wife Greer’s death from cancer. He’s unable to move on, grasping for every memory or reminder of his wife. All the while he lives in their home and works for Greer’s father. When Amelia reveals her discovery that some of the embryos considered abandoned belong to him and Greer, he regains his purpose. He decides that he wants to become a single, through a surrogate, father. Amelia, now so invested in the story, Parker, and their connection, commits to helping him find one, which leads them both back home to Cape Carolina where they were childhood neighbors.
Enter the Buxtons, the Thaysdens and their friends-who-have-become-family with histories that connect Amelia and Parker. They act as matchmakers and truth sayers who encourage the couple’s friendship to rise to the next level and expose secrets that challenge their togetherness. In all of this, Amelia and Parker grow closer; their relationship becomes intimate. In the end, they must decide what of themselves, of Greer and of these embryos determine their future, and who they will choose to love in the end.
ROOT FOR THE HOME TEAM
In her seventh novel, Kristy Woodson Harvey’s storytelling shines. The tone is much like the clear waters of Cape Carolina and has the distinct voice that we’ve come to know in her writing. While a love story is the main focus, other dynamics are explored: friendships, mother-child relationships, widowerhood and surrogacy. Harvey accomplishes this daunting task — and with such a light, gentle touch — by writing the novel in four points of view. Besides Amelia and Parker, the other two voices (no spoilers from this reviewer!) give critical insight to the Buxtons and Thaysdens and complete their family circle. Add the gorgeous Cape Carolina setting, which is a character on its own, and the well-placed bits of humor, and this book is the total package.
Meanwhile, there is no confusion as to what the book’s story goal is and who the reader should root for. The trajectory of Amelia and Parker’s love story feels promised from the start, giving the element of hope. This allows the reader to proceed with trust, even through the ups and downs in the romance, knowing all will be well. In the end, Under the Southern Sky leaves us basking in the glow of a beautifully written book with characters that will continue to live their best lives well after the last page.
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