Alone without friends or family to comfort her after the death of her mother, Willow Finley’s idyllic life is over—and just beginning.
The Finley women’s lives, while rich and full, aren’t easy. rejecting electricity and many other modern conveniences, they live purposefully and intentionally–alone and isolated from the world around them.
When Willow Finley awakes on a hot summer morning, she is unprepared for the grief that awaits her. Jerked from a life of isolation with her mother, Willow learns what alone really means when she finds her mother dead.
From the moment Willow arrives in the police station with her startling announcement, Chad Tesdall fights the friendship he knows he can’t avoid.
Volume 1: This collection of Past Forward opens with Willow’s life-changing discovery and gently guides the reader through aspects of her life–the past weaving through the present and into the future. Experience her first morning in church, her first movie, and the culture shock of her first trips to the city. A birthday party and a street faire add welcome diversion from butchering, canning, and the beating of area rugs. Disaster strikes. Will she be able to continue her life, or will an offer in the city change it all? Find out in this first volume. Note: Past Forward is a serial novel, not a book series. As such, each full-length volume does not completely wrap up the story.
I love this book! I am dying to read all the episodes now (when I’m not reading something else). Chautona’s classic style of combining the serious bits with abundant and adequate humor shone through on every other page. The use of Willow reading back through Kari’s journals as a tool to provide the necessary backstory was brilliant. I also found Willow’s conversations with her mother’s spirit delightful. As I read this first episode, I found myself alternating between laughing uncontrollably with tears flowing down my cheeks, and sobbing with Willow as I felt her loss, grief, and deep sorrow.
“Tears fell as one more familiar thing twisted her gut. Sobs shook her shoulders. She gripped the counter as she realized that it was yet another thing she’d never do with her mother.”
Main and sub-characters have all been perfectly polished … I believe a lot of thought has gone into their development. Each time I picked up this beautiful book to have a read, I felt like I’d arrived home again, to spend time with well-acquainted friends.
There’s oodles of conflict throughout the book so far, both externally and within each main character’s own psyche. “The grass may be greener in the other paddock …” may be an appropriate saying here, as Willow, Chad, and Bill are all torn between what may be, what they think they want in life, and perhaps the frustration of not being able to “have it all”. No matter what choices everyone makes, there will always be pros and cons for each. It’s interesting how different characters are motivated by different realities. Some suffer total naivety while others are just too stubborn to see the light of day.
“That’s not what I said. You know me better than that. I just know you. You’re not as hardened as you like to let yourself think. I don’t want to see your heart seared because of a misplaced dream.”
I’m looking forward to the second and third episodes … I truly am. Surely Chad won’t settle for policing in the City of Rockland … perhaps he’ll come to his senses and realise his feelings for Willow run deeper than a casual friendship. Maybe, just maybe he’ll press those warm, wanting lips of his against Willows soft, silky cheek, and they’ll both begin to live.
About the Author
Bio: Chautona Havig lives and writes in California’s Mojave Desert. So, if her theology seems a little dry, or she gets a little long-winded, there’s an obvious reason for that. But she loves Jesus and the weather helps keep her on fire for Him! For more about why she writes, visit her website Bio page: https://chautona.com/bio/
You can also find Chautona at the following:
My blog: http://chautona.com/blog/
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Chautona-Havig/e/B0032191W2
My newsletter (sign up for news of FREE eBook offers): https://chautona.com/chautona/newsletter
The delicious scent of spices mingled with meat filled our tiny kitchen as I read a line from a new book. Curiosity prompted a question. “Mom? Why do clouds move?”
Standing at the stove, stirring something, Mom didn’t even turn around. “Well, why does a leaf tumble and skid along the ground?”
“The wind! It blows—oh! There’s wind way up there? Wow…”
The blue Chevy S-10 pickup whizzed down CA-126 from Ventura toward Saticoy on a crisp fall morning. Unusual fog for that time of year created an ominous feeling. “Dad? How does everything—sun, moon, stars, planets—how do they keep in such perfect orbits?” I’d intended the question to be a scientific one. Dad flopped it on its head.
“The Lord. If the Lord released His control over the systems He put in place for one second, it would all be obliterated.”
My “explanation” of what I meant welled up in me, but understanding dawned. “So, it stays put because God created the physics and the magnetism or whatever to ensure that it does?”
“Precisely. But if you take God’s plan out of the equation, the answer is insufficient and incomplete.”
And such was my childhood. I didn’t know it as I wrote Past Forward, but the way my parents taught me about life and more academic things, even, shaped the course of that book. Willow learned to tell time and her 5x multiplication tables at a young age—simultaneously. Why? Well, that’s how my parents taught me to tell time. I memorized counting by fives first, then five times one… two… three… And then, I could look at a clock and multiply any number on that clock and know approximately what time it is. Big hand on the 4. Five times four is twenty. Little hand not touching the 3 yet? It’s two-twenty.
I see much of my parents in Kari—particularly my father’s rugged independence, need for solitude, determination to cut his own path. I see Mom in Willow. They’re both comfortable with who they are. They don’t make excuses for people or themselves. They speak frankly but usually with kindness.
Dozens of emails flood my inbox each week. Sometimes hundreds. And of them, at least half will mention Past Forward. Of that half, most will say some version of one thing. “I want Willow’s life. I want chickens, goats, and a garden. But living in the middle of a city without a way to move means that’s impossible.”
Do you know what I think? I think they don’t really want Willow’s exact life as much as they think they do. They want the purposefulness, the beauty, the life lived intentionally and with a thought to glorifying the Lord in all they do. And in Willow, they see a blueprint for how it could be done.
I just think that imitating the way someone lives out Scriptural admonitions to do all for the Glory of God instead of grasping the principle and seeing how to apply it in our own lives is a recipe for discontent and probably disaster.
I tend not to like cliched sayings that become trite with overuse. But there is something to that popular catch-phrase, “Bloom where you are planted.”
Welcome to Willows world. She takes the best of the beautiful, simple things of the past and brings them forward to today. And as she does, she lives a life of intentional purpose. I learned much from her as I wrote her story.
September 28: Reader’s cozy corner
September 29: The Scribbler
September 30: Just Jo’Anne
October 1: Quiet Quilter
October 2: Inklings and notions
October 3: Fizzy Pop Collection
October 4: Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations
October 5: Carpe Diem
October 6: Have A Wonderful Day
October 7: A Baker’s Perspective
October 8: Christian Bookaholic
October 9: Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses
October 10: His Grace is Sufficient
October 11: Blossoms and Blessings
Featured Books on the Tour (all recommended reads)
Past Forward— A life lived intentionally. That’s how Kari Finley would describe the world she created on her farm for herself and her daughter, Willow. But when Willow awakes one morning to find her mother with Jesus, that life changes in ways she never would have imagined. Past Forward is a serial novel released in six volumes.
HearthLand— Intrigued by Willow’s lifestyle, Ralph Myner sinks most of his retirement fund into creating an intentional community. People from all walks of life join together to “live life more deliberately.”
Ready or Not—When Aggie Milliken’s sister and brother-in-law die from a freak medical accident, the twenty-two-year-old recent college graduate is thrust into the role of “Auntie Mommy.” One child would have been a challenge, but eight? Follow her journey from inept babysitter to Mommy in the Aggie’s Inheritance series.
Speak Now— When Jonathan Lyman met Cara at a wedding, he had no interest in forging a relationship. Still grieving the loss of his wife, he didn’t know there’d be someone so perfectly suited to help soothe the pain that still gripped him and his children. But Cara’s gentleness and adaptability proved to be exactly what the Doctor of doctors ordered.
Discovering Hope— When Jay Brown overhears an epic brush-off, he and the brusher, Hope Senior, forge an unlikely friendship. He’s an Indian immigrant. She’s so All-American that her family dates back to the Mayflower. But through Christmas lights, epic laser tag, grief, saris, and a few hundred mistletoe sprigs, they may just form more than the friendship of a lifetime.
Manuscript for Murder— When local celebrity, author Alexa Hartfield, finds her next novel played out as if a script for murder of local residents, she’s both grieved and incensed. With the help of a local officer, she’s on the hunt for who could have “dunnit” before the murderer kills another resident and her career.
Prairie— When Jessa Davidson awakes in the place of her dreams, she finds herself thrust into a world that feels almost too good to be true. Only the new friendships she makes and the lessons the people of Prairie teach her help keep her rooted when her mind insists that none of it can be real.
Confessions of a De-cluttering Junkie— Kaye Harper has had it. No one needs six can openers, four umbrellas per person, or a closetful of games all missing pieces. So, with her family watching on in horror, and her feline nemesis determined to trip her up at every move, Kaye embarks on a de-cluttering mission that might just become a bit of an obsession.
Corner Booth— Who knew you could lose your heart to someone you’ve never spoken to? When a strange girl stops at Dean Sager’s table and asks if she can join him to avoid a line out the restaurant door, he has no idea that this one shared meal will become a weekly ritual. But contrary to his talkative nature, Dean doesn’t say a word that day or any of the following days. And an experiment in self-control becomes a lesson in really seeing and understanding people.
None So Blind— Waking up in a house you don’t recognize and with a family hurt that you don’t remember them is hard enough. But when it feels like you’re forced into a life you didn’t choose, things become almost unbearable. The only thing keeping Ella Weeks from running from it all is the one thing that survived her inexplicable memory loss—her faith.
Justified Means— An organization designed to protect people where the law can’t, The Agency prides itself in a decade-long almost perfect record. But after an involuntary extraction, Keith Auger can barely stay ahead of those hunting down the woman under their protection. It doesn’t make it easy when Erika Polowski is determined to escape from her “captors.”
Not a Word— We all make mistakes, but Savannah Forrester had no idea that her biggest mistake has ruined the life of the only guy she’s ever really cared about. Todd “Mac” Mackenzie has allowed the town to think what he will of him to protect her reputation. But when she returns to Brant’s Corners, they both have some explaining to do.
Shadows & Secrets— In the heart of medieval England, adventure awaits. Philip Warden has known of “the creature” his entire life, but a chance encounter helps him discover that there’s more to a person than what you see, or don’t see, on the outside. Who knew he and the village pariah would have such great adventures together or become such close friends.
Legends of the Vengeance— Sebastian Soranzo wants nothing more than a normal life in a village somewhere far away from the pirate ship where he lives with his father. He can’t understand his father’s thirst for revenge and the drive to help those wronged by their governments. But when an old enemy catches up with them, Sebastian finds himself out in the Atlantic in a ship too small to make it safely to the east.