Date: September 6th 2016
Genre: Women's Fiction
Source: Publisher/Author via NetGalley
Poring over a dusty hatbox of photographs in her grandmother’s closet, Emily Prentice is shocked to discover her father was married to his high school sweetheart before meeting her mother.
In the summer of 1968, Jack and Libbie fall in love under the spell of their small town, untouched by the chaos of the late sixties. Though Libbie’s well-to-do parents disapprove of Jack’s humble family and his aspiration to become a mechanic, she marries Jack a year after they graduate high school. But soon their happiness crumbles as Libbie’s mental state unravels and she is drawn to alcohol and drugs. Despite his efforts to help her, Jack loses the woman he loves and is forced to move on with his life.
Now that Emily’s mother has passed away, Jack is alone again, and Emily grows obsessed with the beautiful woman who had given her father such joy. Determined to find Libbie, Emily pieces together the couple’s fragmented past. But is it too late for happy endings?
While Finding Libbie starts in the present day, it soon moves make to the 1960's, to that time of the Vietnam war, when women mostly still stayed at home and didn't go to work. When some were bored and fell prey to drugs and alcohol.
Libbie comes from one of the most wealthy families in the town. Her family or at least her mother places her value on wealth to measure worth. Her sister was someone I really disliked, she was a real stirrer of the pot. Libbie's dad was good, if somewhat indulgent and with the penchant to look for a life of turning a blind eye to what was going on in his home.
Jack was a hard working young man, in love with Libbie but as their life progressed he could see all was not right with Libbie. (They married so young - as many did in those days.) So when Jack's daughter discovers that he was married before the marriage to her own mother she is very curious as to what happened to Libbie. As the reader I was too, what did she do in the intervening years? How did this fragile, anxious but sweet young woman fare?
It is Emily - Jack's daughter who when she learns of Libbie in her father's life spends time searching for her. It is a time for her too to re-evaluate how her own life is panning out and whether the man she is with, is right for her.
The story comes eventually to a heartwarming and moving conclusion. I was amused at how well all the threads of the story were detailed out in the epilogue. It is rare that that happens!
The story examines mental illness and the lack of understanding in the past that led to much suffering. It is a story of second chances and growing into a place of contentment and self fulfilment.