HarperCollins|April 15, 2013|Trade Paperback|ISBN: 978-0-06-221176-7
When fireman Jimmy McMullen is killed in the line of duty, his wife, Jackie, and ten-year-old son, Charlie, are devastated. Trusting the healing power of family, Jackie decides to return to her childhood home on Sullivans Island – a place of lush green grasslands, the heady pungency of Lowcountry Pluff mud, and palmetto fronds swaying in gentle ocean winds.
Thrilled to have her family back, matriarch Annie Britt promises to make their visit perfect. Over the years, Jackie and Annie, like all mothers and daughters, have had differences of opinion. But her estranged and wise husband, Buster, and her best friend, Deb, are sure to keep Annie in line. She’s also got the flirtatious widowed physician next door to keep her distracted. Captivated by the island’s natural charms, mother, daughter, and grandson will share a memorable, illuminating summer.
Jackie McMullen was an army nurse stationed in Afghanistan for a seven-month tour when her husband, Jimmy was killed. He was fireman for the city of New York and fell through the floor when it collapsed in a filthy, rat-infested tenement on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Jackie swore that Jimmy couldn’t be too far away because she could “feel him, watching over me, over us.” They were very much in love and Jackie was devastated.
Their 10-year-old son, Charlie, was depressed and had idolized his Dad. Jimmy took Charlie everywhere on his days off, they spent a lot of quality time together and losing his father was like losing a part of himself. Charlie’s despair was a huge concern for Jackie, no matter what she said or did, didn’t seem to bring him around. Charlie was truly traumatized.
It was Jimmy’s Aunt Maureen who made Jackie realize that something had to be done. Aunt Maureen was unmarried and in her sixties, and she was Charlie’s secondary caregiver when Jackie went overseas.
Jackie’s Mom and Dad were living apart and had been for eleven years. Jackie’s Mom, Annie, came and stayed for a couple of weeks to help out and then returned home. Once she was gone, Buster, Jackie’s Dad came. He worked his “grandfatherly magic on Charlie,” and for a little while it seemed he was perking up. Buster took him to Museum of Natural History one day and on another to the Yogi Berra Museum, where Yogi Berra himself happened to be that afternoon. “He signed a ball for Charlie that he carried around with him wherever he went.”
After Buster returned home, Charlie’s depression returned. Jackie felt so sad and helpless, there was so little she could do for him. So, right after the Fourth of July, Jackie decided to head south to Sullivans Island where her parents and other family and friends lived. Jackie was putting her trust in the healing power of family. However, it won’t be an easy visit for Jackie as she and her mother have had differences of opinion for years. She is hoping that her Dad and her Mom’s best friend, Deb will help keep Annie in line and she’s got the flirtatious widowed physician next door to keep her distracted as well.
Porch Lights celebrates the joys and boundaries of families and storytelling. I’ll definitely be recommending this one.