Booklist Reviews

In her sixth novel, an inspiring story of love, faith, and redemption, Jackson delivers another page-turner. Sweet 21-year-old southerner Shandi falls "in love with William Ashe at gunpoint, in a Circle K" when the hulking geneticist positions himself between the drugged-out gunman and single-mother Shandi's three-year-old son. Although William's heroic feat is not exactly born out of altruism, and he suffers a bullet wound in the process, it's enough to earn Shandi's undivided love and attention, and she throws herself into caring for him when he is released from the hospital. Jackson hooks readers right from the outset as she seamlessly moves from the dramatic holdup to a subtle and often moving exploration of the various guises of love and faith. All of the characters—from atheistic William, who suffers from Asperger's syndrome; to Shandi, who possesses a warmth and compassion that belie her youth; to their respective best friends: the sardonic Paula and the poetry-spouting Wolcott—are so vividly drawn, they fairly leap off the page. Highly readable, with a lightly drawn philosophical and religious backdrop, this is a perfect choice for book clubs. Copyright 2013 Booklist Reviews.

Library Journal Reviews

Destiny. That's what Shandi Pierce is convinced brought her and scientist William Ashe together during a robbery at a Circle K store in rural Georgia, and that is what's going to help her answer a question that has been plaguing her for years. However, as their stories become more entwined and secrets from their pasts are revealed, Shandi wonders if she even wants the answer at all. VERDICT Jackson's sixth novel (after A Grown Up Kind of Pretty) is original and amusing, and the plot takes an unexpected turn with the introduction of a new character late in the book. Unfortunately, the clunky transitions among narrators and jumps between the past and present distract at times from the story. Still, Jackson's many fans and those who love authentic Southern fiction should enjoy this title. [See Prepub Alert, 6/3/13.]—Amber McKee, Cumberland Univ. Lib., Lebanon, TN

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Library Journal Reviews

Hugely best-selling Jackson is being positioned to break out even bigger with a love story that starts with a holdup at a gas station minimart. There, tall, blond geneticist William Ashe steps between the gunman and 21-year-old college student Shandi Pierce's three-year-old son. For William, wracked by past tragedy, it's not just a noble gesture but a conscious choice to meet destiny head on. With a six-city tour and a 150,000-copy first printing; pushed at BookExpo America.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews

Friendships and relationships are tested by tragedy in this witty and insightful sixth novel from the author of Gods in Alabama and A Grown-up Kind of Pretty. Single mother Shandi Pierce is paralyzed with fear when she and her young son Natty are caught in the crossfire of a convenience store stickup gone bad. That is, until the dashing William Ashe steps between Natty and the gunman. Smitten by her erstwhile savior, Shandi buddies up to William, hoping their friendship can become more, but is stymied by complications in the form of Shandi's disapproving best friend Walcott, William's cohort Paula, Shandi's ever-feuding divorced parents, and William's own heartbreaking and as-yet unresolved past. With a deft wit and a series of stellar twists, Jackson creates a conventional love story that is also something more: an exploration of what draws people together, and pushes them apart; a commentary on faith's ability to unite or divide; and a reminder that "death brushing past makes people hungry to connect to other people." What emerges is a novel at once funny and touching, whose characters' many flaws are overshadowed by all the ways in which they look out for one another. The final denouement of Jackson's roller-coaster love story will leave the reader both thoroughly sated and hungry for more. (Dec.)

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