To Be Where You Are by Jan Karon
Yea--We are back in Mitford! For readers new to the series, Mitford is a safe, warm, and genuine place. Life is a little calmer, the people are kind, and their faith is real.
Life goes on at a leisurely pace in Mitford, and a similarly modest pace in this book. The folks in town try to be good Christians as well as good citizens. Most folks still say grace before meals. One woman, fond of baking, wonders:
"Lord, why did you put me here, anyway?’ Would the Lord put somebody on earth just to bake cakes?"
The Mitford folks are faithful, but not dullards; there are plenty of fun moments in Mitford #12. Things get off to a humorous start when the longtime newspaper editor (and husband to the police chief) gets an obituary wrong, and pulls the "wrong photo out of the file." Well, this is big news in Mitford--especially to the "dead" woman who sees her photo on the front page! The "deceased" is honored as a great "monument" to the town.
One main theme in TO BE WHERE YOU ARE is the story of a young boy, Jack Tyler, recently adopted by the hardworking couple Dooley and Lace. Little Jack finally gets a real home, formally adopted by these loving parents. They even let Jack choose exactly what his name will be. Meanwhile, Dooley and Lace struggle with a sudden financial crisis at the veterinary clinic. How will they pay the bills?
Well, like most folks in Mitford, Dooley, Lace, and Jack learn to trust in God--even when things look bleak. In fact, the theme of trusting in God is a recurring theme in Mitford. The entire Mitford series is founded in trust in God.
Perhaps the high point of the book is near the end, when Father Tim, the supposedly retired town priest, counsels a woman who just discovered her husband was unfaithful. The woman is bitter, bent on revenge, and asks Father Tim for some advice on getting back at him. Father Tim suggests a much better way:
‘There is another way, Brooke. But only one. Forgiveness."
Father Tim presents the Good News to the woman, but she is just not ready to hear it.
All in all, I found TO BE WHERE YOU ARE a pleasant, easy read. It was fun being back in Mitford, with all the comforts of home! It's like being with old friends again. Jan Karon writes well, and the story is easy to follow. I also appreciate the author's large vocabulary--especially the many gardening words. I didn't know, for example, that "Queen Anne’s lace" meant a wild carrot, or that "Witch Hazel" is a type of plant. Well, now I know!
I thought this one sentence nicely summed up this book:
"Thank you God for so many dreams coming true."