Review: The Favorite Daughter by Patti Callahan Henry

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☆☆➹⁀☆ 5 stars ☆➹⁀☆☆

What It’s About:

Ten years ago, Lena Donohue experienced a wedding-day betrayal so painful that she fled the small town of Watersend, South Carolina, and reinvented herself in New York City. Though now a freelance travel writer, the one place she rarely goes is home–until she learns of her dad’s failing health.

Returning to Watersend means seeing the sister she has avoided for a decade and the brother who runs the family’s Irish pub and has borne the burden of his sisters’ rift. While Alzheimer’s slowly steals their father’s memories, the siblings rush to preserve his life in stories and in photographs. As his secret past brings Lena’s own childhood into focus, it sends her on a journey to discover the true meaning of home.

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My Thoughts:

The Favorite Daughter is a classic family drama.  Author Patti Callahan Henry has written a touching and emotional story of estranged sisters, family secrets, and second-chances.

The writing is lovely and evocative.  The plot is well paced, and along every single step, readers’ hearts will be tugged. The “big reveal” is easily surmised—at least in part—but that didn’t diminish the journey.  That journey is Colleen’s.  With the backdrop of her beloved father’s rapid decline to Alzheimer’s disease, Colleen is forced to face her sister’s hateful betrayal, her family’s acceptance of her sister and fiancé after that betrayal, as well as her mother’ luke-warm parenting.

Usually a review will effusively described loved characters. However, I was most impacted by a character I didn’t like. In fact, I detested Colleen’s sister Hallie, the family’s acceptance of her betrayal, and their eventual acceptance of her husband (Colleen’s former fiancé).  It is just beyond wrong!  I never got to the point where I felt any acceptance, understanding or forgiveness for Hallie’s choices or her consequences.  She whined, complained, and acted hurt when she was the root of the problem.  Hallie, grown-up and with a daughters of her own, perpetually acts like the stereotypical younger sister. At every opportunity, Hallie’s choices attempt to erase Colleen—from her ultimate betrayal to her demands about the memory book the siblings are making for their father.  While Colleen’s festering anger might have hurt her, she had every right to want to avoid a sister who systematically stole her fiancé. Who wouldn’t feel justified in cutting that out of their life?

Colleen’s choice in career (travel writer), is used as a euphemism for her continued running from her “problem”.  Clearly it is part of the author’s message about Colleen’s choices in dealing with the hand she was dealt.  The author’s message of forgiveness was heavy handed; and post epiphany, Colleen is a bit preachy about what she learned/accepted.  Seriously, I can’t imagine anyone gathering with the family and welcoming her ex-fiancé as a now-brother-in-law at every holiday gathering.

In Colleen’s final journey to her true home, she finally finds the unconditional, unrestrained love that she never got from the mother who raised her.  She finally knows and accepts the reality of her beginning, and upon her return to her childhood home, she can now accept a new romantic love and reconciliation.

“I believe home is a land that calls for you, a place that shelters.  It’s a family with all the complications that a family can be.” –Colleen

The Favorite Daughter will tug at your heartstrings…especially if you have siblings.   You’ll recall shared moments and feelings of the other being the favorite.  Regardless of my rant about the sisters’ estrangement, I truly enjoyed this book.  When you read it, don’t skip the chapter heading quotes, and savor Gavin Donohue’s Irish sayings.  They’re gems.


© Copyright 2019 Book Junkie Reviews. All rights reserved.

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