Friday, June 4, 2010

They Almost Always Come Home by Cynthia Ruchti

book cover

They Almost Always Come Home
by Cynthia Ruchti

Trade Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Abingdon Press
First Released: 2010

Author Website

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, my take (except tag line):
He was supposed to be fishing. He was supposed to come home. And she was supposed to care.

Libby has been stuck in a depression since her beloved daughter died in a school shooting. Even her husband can't seem to help her--partly because she blames him. When Greg says he wants to go on a solo wilderness fishing trip, she doesn't object about the safety issues because she has a hard time caring anymore. But when her ever-faithful husband doesn't come home, she discovers that she cares more than she expected. Would it be easier if he was dead?

When she tells the police about her missing husband, they do a thorough search for him but suggest he might have used the trip as a cover for leaving an unrewarding marriage and job. Libby can't handle not knowing what's become of her husband. At the urging of her best friend, they convince her husband's father to take them on a wilderness trip--which they've never done before--to re-trace her husband's trip in an attempt to discover what happened to him. But before they find him, Libby must figure out what she's really hoping to find.

They Almost Always Come Home is a Christian general fiction novel with a lot of suspense. The characters were interesting and complex, and they dealt with realistic problems. The world-building was excellent, especially for the wilderness trip. The story came alive in my imagination, and it felt like these events really could have happened.

The first thirty-two pages were mostly Libby thinking about her situation and doing little but worrying about the various possibilities of what could have happened to her husband. It's tantalizing, but so little real, solid information was given about how this state of things came about that it felt a bit slow-paced to me.

However, after that, other people started interacting with Libby and she became more active in dealing with the problem. From that point on, the story was fast-paced and the suspense built nicely so I had a hard time putting the novel down. Near the end, we get Greg's perspective of his trip and what happened, which was nice and was worked into the story at a very good spot.

The target audience appeared to be Christians or those with a Christian background. The characters were Christians trying to figure out how to deal with a God who doesn't always give you what you think you need the most. It's not preachy (and there were no conversions), but it definitely had a strong Christian element to it.

The novel was written in first person, present tense ("I run" instead of "I ran"). (Married) sex was implied. There was no bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this novel as exciting and insightful clean reading.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from Chapter One
Do dead people wear shoes? In the casket, I mean. Seems a waste. Then again, no outfit is complete without the shoes.

My thoughts pound up the stairs, down the hall, and into the master bedroom closet. Greg’s gray suit is clean, I think. White shirt, although that won’t allow much color contrast and won’t do a thing for Greg’s skin tones. His red tie with the silver threads? Good choice.

Shoes or no shoes? I should know this. I’ve stroked the porcelain-cold cheeks of several embalmed loved ones. My father and grandfather. Two grandmothers—one too young to die. One too old not to.

And Lacey.

The Baxter Street Mortuary will not touch my husband’s body should the need arise. They got Lacey’s hair and facial expression all wrong.

I rise from the couch and part the sheers on the front window one more time. Still quiet. No lights on the street. No Jeep pulling into our driveway. I’ll give him one more hour, then I’m heading for bed. With or without him.

Shoes? Yes or no? I’m familiar with the casket protocol for children. But for adults?

Grandma Clarendon hadn’t worn shoes for twelve years or more when she died. She preferred open-toed terrycloth slippers. Day and night. Home. Uptown. Church. Seems to me she took comfort to the extreme. Or maybe she figured God ought to be grateful she showed up in His house at all, given her distaste for His indiscriminate dispersal of the Death Angel among her friends and siblings.

“Ain’t a lick of pride in outliving your brothers and sisters, Libby.” She said it often enough that I can pull off a believable impression. Nobody at the local comedy club need fear me as competition, but the cousins get a kick out of it at family reunions.

Leaning on the tile and cast-iron coffee table, I crane everything in me to look at the wall clock in the entry. Almost four in the morning? I haven’t even decided who will sing special music at Greg’s memorial service. Don’t most women plan their husband’s funeral if he’s more than a few minutes late?

In the past, before this hour, I’m mentally two weeks beyond the service, trying to decide whether to keep the house or move to a condo downtown.

He’s never been this late before. And he’s never been alone in the wilderness. A lightning bolt of something—fear? anticipation? pain?—ripples my skin and exits through the soles of my feet.

The funeral plans no longer seem a semimorbid way to occupy my mind while I wait for the lights of his Jeep. Not pointless imaginings but preparation.

That sounds like a thought I should command to flee in the name of Jesus or some other holy incantation. But it stares at me with narrowed eyes as if to say, “I dare you.”

Read the first three chapters.


Cynthia Ruchti said...

Debbie, thank you so much for your kind and honest thoughts about the book. I'm looking forward to interacting with your readers and appreciate that you've given Libby and her story a "voice" here!

Katy said...

This sounds interesting! I enjoy suspenseful storylines. :) Nice job on the review.

Genre Reviewer said...

Hi, Cynthia.

You're welcome. Thank you for taking the time to drop by and comment and for taking the time to write the novel in the first place. :)

God bless.

Genre Reviewer said...


I'm glad you found my review useful. Thanks for taking the time to comment.