Home Safe by Elizabeth Berg
Helen was unexpectedly widowed a year ago, just before her daughter moved out, a young adult ready to establish her own life. Losing both of them has left Helen, a successful author, bereft, lonely, and uninspired. She still sees her daughter often, but comes home to an empty house. One day she is contacted by a woman who organizes a writing class for underprivileged people in the community and she asks Helen to teach the next course. At first Helen is reluctant, she has never been good in front of people, but eventually she agrees. Part of the reason that she agrees is that she finds out that shortly before her husband's death, he withdrew most of their retirement savings and spent it, and she has much less money to live on that she thought she had. In teaching the class, though, she finds unexpected pleasure, fulfillment, and healing. In time, she learns where her husband spent the money he withdrew- he had her dream home built in California, drawing from all of the ideas that Helen had discussed with him and pieced together in a special folder over the years. The construction is complete and the contractor wants to know if Helen will be moving in or would like him to help her sell the house. When she visits the house, she is swept off her feet with how perfect it is, but she can't bear the thought of leaving her life and her daughter in Chicago, and the house makes her miss her husband so acutely, as she had planned to retire to their dream home together. As the time comes for a decision to be made, Helen finds courage, growth, direction, and fortitude, and makes the best decision possible, and finds her inspiration to write return.
I loved this book! I saw so much of myself in Helen with her big, tender heart and insecurities, and felt my heart expand with happiness as I saw her grow throughout the book. I learned things from watching her grow that I can use when faced with tough decisions in my own life. Once again, Berg has constructed a beautiful tale with an amazing and real woman at the heart. It's a lovely, heartwarming story, and one I can heartily recommend!