Back cover copy: A month after her mother’s life ended unexpectedly, Jorie’s father dies suddenly from a heart attack. While reeling in grief, her life continues to unravel. She confronts the reality that her marriage to an abusive husband is over when she realizes her life is in danger. With the help of her best friend Jill, Jorie devises a plan of escape.
Jorie travels alone over a thousand miles from all she’s ever known to be with her only living relative. Aunt Charlotte lives on a small barrier island in a beautiful region of Florida known as the Forgotten Coast. Jorie uncovers truths about her mother’s childhood and learns about the grandparents she never knew. She begins to find healing and self-discovery in the tranquil beauty of this unknown paradise. She feels she has come home. Will the new life Jorie finds be threatened once again? Will she ever be able to let go of the past and truly move forward?
My review: Domestic abuse is more common than many of us might realize and can be closer to home than we expect. And while no type of abuse is ever pleasant to think about, there is hope – and there are resources and support – for people who find themselves caught in that situation.
I’ll admit up front that I’m a bit prejudiced about this book because I’ve known Terri for many years through writers’ group. And I do love when a friend publishes a book. But even aside from that, Journey to the Forgotten Coast has some important messages for us to read and remember.
Jorie has been married for several years, but things haven’t turned out as she had hoped. It took a while for her to become pregnant and then she suffered a miscarriage. She still hasn’t healed emotionally from that trauma when both her parents die unexpectedly, within weeks of each other. Her husband Hugh’s actions following those events finally push Jorie to the point of admitting to others that he has abused her for years and that she believes her life is in danger.
Traveling through this story with Jorie isn’t easy. You see how – and why – she tries to justify the situation to herself and others. You share her fear as she decides to get away and start a new life for herself. You feel her anger at Hugh – and God – and her grief and disappointment.
But in the end Jorie realizes something important that can be hard for us to remember, too. God is always there, working in the people and situations around us to bring us closer to Him and to see His plans fulfilled. Even on the hard, ugly, disappointing days. Even when we feel hurt and betrayed and confused.
Jorie has people who are praying for her when she doesn’t even know it. People who care about her more than she realizes and who are ready to help her as soon as she asks for it.
Life doesn’t magically become perfect for Jorie when she gets away from Hugh – just like it doesn’t for us when we get past our own bad situations. But she draws courage and strength from the people who love her and begins to deepen her relationship with God. She learns to believe that she deserves a better life and that the work it takes to reach that point is worth it.
Jorie’s journey ends with hope and new purpose despite the imperfections. I think that’s an important lesson we can all learn, no matter what we’re going through.
Unfortunately, though, the characters and situations in Journey to the Forgotten Coast are all too familiar to millions of people of all races, ages and economic statuses who find themselves caught in situations of domestic abuse. But there is hope for these people just as there was for Jorie.
Here are a few websites with more information and resources if you or someone you know needs support:
- National Domestic Violence Hotline (or call 1-800-799-7233)
- The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
- Break the Cycle
- The National Child Traumatic Stress Network
Who should read it: Journey to the Forgotten Coast is an important book because of the message it carries, but that same message could be a potential trigger for some readers who have experienced or been close to domestic abuse. There are a few four-letter words, but not the ones banned by the FCC. The story is written for women. I say it’s appropriate for older teens and above because of its valuable message.