Title: The Patient One by Shelley Shepard Gray
Walnut Creek Series Book One
Publisher: Gallery Books
Genre: Contemporary, Inspirational, Romance
Length: 304 pages
Book Rating: B
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
Seven former best friends reunite and struggle to heal after the tragic death of one of their own in this evocative and heartrending novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Gift and Her Secret.
When word had gotten out that Andy Warner had committed suicide, everyone in Walnut Creek, Ohio, had been shocked. For seven men and women in their twenties, some Amish, some Mennonite, and some English, each of whom had once counted his or herself as one of Andy’s best friends, it had been extremely painful.
And, maybe, a source of guilt.
Years have passed since they’d all been together last. Some of them got into trouble. A couple got into arguments. Eventually they all drifted apart. But even though none of them really saw each other anymore, there was a steadfast certainty that they’d always have each other’s backs—even when no one else did. Their bond was that strong…until Andy did the unthinkable.
Now the seven remaining friends, still reeling from Andy’s death, have vowed to look after each other again. As far as they’re concerned, it doesn’t matter that they’re now in their twenties and have drifted far apart. They need to connect again…for Andy.
The first full-length installment in the Walnut Creek series, The Patient One by Shelley Shepard Gray is a heartwarming novel of love and friendship.
Opening with the funeral of their beloved friend Andy Warner, the remaining seven friends, Marie Harman, John Byler, Katie Steurny, Logan, Harley, Elizabeth Anne and Will Kurtz, struggle to understand why Andy committed suicide. The childhood friends have grown apart since they entered their twenties but after Andy’s death, they mutually decide to nurture their friendship. They also have a new understanding of how short life can be, so John decides it is time to do something about his longtime crush on Katie, who has recently moved back to Walnut Creek. But will their very differences prove too insurmountable to overcome?
Although John is Amish, he works for an Englischer and he has yet to baptized in the faith. He comes from a large and loving family who, it turns out, know him a little better than he knows himself. At first believing there is no reason why a romance between him and Katie will not work out, John is surprised when troubles arise between them.
While Katie has not Amish, she does have a strong faith. Her return to Walnut Creek is long overdue and she is happy to be close to her parents and friends. Surprised to discover that John returns her feelings, she also knows a future between them is not guaranteed. Katie is delighted when John asks her out, but their different backgrounds, insecurities and lack of communication threaten to derail their fledging romance.
John’s sixteen year sister Molly is also unexpectedly in the midst of a budding romance with Danny. Paralyzed after a riding accident, Molly appreciates her family’s help but she is frustrated that they do not realize she is capable of taking care of herself. Danny takes her disability in stride and Molly is matter of fact about what life in a wheelchair. Their relationship is refreshingly honest and watching Molly become more self-assured is quite gratifying.
The Patient One is a compelling novel of healing that also features a gentle undercurrent of faith. The storyline is realistic and deals with suicide and the consequences of drunk driving. John and Katie are a wonderful couple but their inability to express their concerns and expectations causes misunderstandings between them. Molly and Danny’s romance is incredibly sweet and free of unnecessary conflict. Shelley Shepard Gray brings the novel to a poignant yet uplifting conclusion. An enjoyable beginning to the Walnut Creek series that will leave readers eagerly awaiting the release of The Loyal One.