Facedown in manure.
The metaphor of where Molly Tanner was laying in relation to the path her life had taken in the last six years was not lost on her.
She had been sure that by now, eight years after graduating high school, she’d be out on her own. Instead, she was still living on her parents’ farm in rural Pennsylvania, still sleeping in her old room, her mother still cooking her meals and washing her clothes, and still, obviously, slogging through manure.
There is a lot about Molly’s life that is out of balance to her these days. While she’d always imagined herself involved with her family’s farm and country store, she now wonders what else life might have to offer. Maybe it’s time to leave the farm and see what else is out there. But can she leave her family’s four-generation farm when hard times threaten to shut it down?
And what about farmhand Alex Stone, her brother’s best friend. The tone of their banter in the barn during the morning and afternoon milk sessions was changing; exactly how Molly couldn’t explain, other than to say it was less juvenile and more — dare she say it? Flirtatious.
I was thoroughly captivated by this story. The main character Molly is so sweet and endearing and funny and tough all at the same time, and I really enjoyed reading her journey!
Howeler has a definite gift for writing, particularly dialogue and humor, but her imagery is also not to be overlooked. She self-describes herself as a writer of fluff on Instagram, and while this book did have it’s fluffy fun flirty moments, it dealt with some serious, real life moments as well, without taking things too far to the dark side. Farming is hard work, and in today’s world, even harder as farmers have to compete with factory farms and changing ideas on food and health. Dairy farmers in particular have been hit hard, and the suicide rate is alarmingly high for this demographic. How can small family farms compete or make money when the chips are stacked against them? It take a real love of the land and for what you do to keep at it, day after day, laboring intensely in longer than 8 hour days, that is for sure. Howeler touches on this struggle in a way that has you fired up to get out there and patronize all those small farmers to help them! (and in fact I did – I placed a meat order with a small farmer and also with our local dairy farm too)
That aside, the love story between Molly and Alex – phew! I may have needed to fan myself a few times while reading their interactions. As Christian fiction, this is a “clean” romance, but that doesn’t make the heat any less intense. I loved their moments together, their ease and familiarity, their friendship, their mutual respect for one another – all such important building blocks in a relationship. The fact that they liked the way each other looked was just icing on the cake.
The other characters in this book were just as compelling. I found myself wrapped up in Molly’s parent’s story, the story of Robert and Annie, wanting to know more! Am I hoping there is a book called The Farmer’s Wife in the works? Uh, yeah you bet I am! And Molly’s brother and his girl Ellie, they deserve a book – good thing there is one being written as I type this. I am willing to bet as well, that maybe just maybe, we will get a book about Molly’s bestie Liz too.
This book made me laugh out loud, worry, cheer – I ran through all the emotions while reading it. I fell in love with this little corner of the world and family and can’t wait to read more!
You can find Lisa Howeler’s blog here: https://lisahoweler.com/
Her instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/lisarhowelerwriter/