I'll admit for a while I wasn't fond of the narrator in Celeste Fletcher McHale's debut novel, The Secret to Hummingbird Cake. But, stick with it. This is not your typical chick lit book, and Carrigan Whitfield learns a few hard lessons in the course of the story.
Carrigan, Laine Landry and Ella Rae Weeks have been best friends since they were five and Laine's family moved to the small town of Bon Dieu Falls, Louisiana. Twenty-five years later, Carrigan and Ella Rae have married, but they still have hairbrained ideas, and Carrigan, in particular, makes "slightly off decisions". When she becomes convinced her husband, Jack, is having an affair, she decides to have one, too. Laine reprimands her, insisting Jack still adores the woman he eloped with when she was seventeen. Carrigan, already feeling guilty because she loves her husband, knows there are "Some distinct disadvantages to having your conscience living directly across the street."
"Laine was kind and gentle and loving. I was loud and suspicious and headstrong." And, Carrigan reveals all of their escapades and her mistakes until one day when it's no longer funny. Life hits them in the face, and Carrigan is finally forced to mature. She'd been so wrapped up in herself, despite her best friends, that she never saw that change could come. But friends and family rally, and Carrigan is grateful she lives in a small town where everyone knows everyone's business.
As I said, Carrigan's immaturity bothered me at the beginning of the book. She was a little too selfish, a little too self-involved. But, as my co-worker pointed out, it was refreshing to have a narrator and main character who isn't perfect. And, she does grow in the course of the book.
The Secret of Hummingbird Cake. It's a debut, southern novel, with three best friends, a character that grows, and a tearjerker. What more do you want?
Celeste Fletcher McHale's website is www.celestefletchermchale.com
The Secret of Hummingbird Cake by Celeste Fletcher McHale. Thomas Nelson. 2016. 9780718039561 (paperback), 295p.
FTC Full Disclosure - A friend lent a copy of this book.