I'm a little late reading this book, but it's really never too late to read a book about a woman who finds the inner courage to move ahead, protecting herself and her daughter, after an abusive marriage. But, this is Debbie Macomber's Last One Home, so it's not a story of violence. It's a story about growth and courage.
Cassie Carter was the middle of three sisters, secure in her father's love, and the strong family life they all shared. But, it all changed when she was eighteen, and fell in love with Duke. Pregnant, she ran away to Florida with him, as far as he could take her from her family in Seattle. And, despite the fact that she eventually took her daughter, and escaped to a shelter, Cassie never had the money to return to her family, or the courage to tell them she had been in an abusive marriage. Both of her parents died, not knowing what happened to her. When Cassie didn't show up at her parents' funerals, her sisters, Karen and Nichole, cut her out of their lives.
But, this is actually Cassie's story about her life after Duke. She and her daughter, Amiee, don't have a lot of money or a decent apartment, but Cassie went to school to do hair, and she's now saving money in order to qualify for a house with Habit for Humanity. When she learns she qualified, she's thrilled to start work on someone's house, to put in her sweat equity. But, Steve Brody, Cassie's supervisor on the job, is a bad-tempered man who doesn't seem to like her on sight. And, she's learned to stand up for herself, and Cassie can give as good as she can take.
As she struggles to juggle work, her work on the Habitat house, and her time with her daughter, Cassie hears from Karen, who she hasn't seen in thirteen years. She has furniture stored for her, and Cassie just has a short time to come from her present home in Spokane to pick it up. Cassie's so grateful that her sister can't understand. They only begrudgingly contacted her, not really caring if they ever saw her again.
Macomber has brought the threads of Cassie's past and present together in a touching story. And, she skillfully, in the course of the story, points out what everyone lost, without being preachy. Cassie knew what she lost. "She'd lost her self-respect. She'd lost all contact with her family. She'd lost all self-esteem and pride." She calls it "her stupid tax". But, she wasn't there to witness the nightmare her disappearance caused for the entire family. And, Macomber is careful to point out the wide-spread ripples when one family member ends up in an abusive situation.
Last One Home is not a depressing story. It's a story of hope and compassion. Debbie Macomber introduces a character, Cassie Carter, who has learned to stand on her own, and has climbed from nothing. But, it's always better when there are people to cheer you on, and that's what Cassie finally finds in a story with heart, courage, and love.
Debbie Macomber's website is www.debbiemacomber.com
Last One Home by Debbie Macomber. Ballantine Books. 2015. ISBN 9780553391886 (hardcover), 320p.
FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.