Just Look Up (2017) is a novel by Courtney Walsh. This book will release on July 4, 2017, and will come in all forms including eBook. The book is 416 pages in length. With a full-time job and a five-year old at home, this book took me two days to read. I received a copy of the eBook from Tyndale Publishing through NetGalley; all opinions expressed in this review are my own. I give this AMAZING novel 5+ STARS. This is a Contemporary Christian Romance.
Here is the GoodReads blurb:
After tirelessly climbing the ranks of her Chicago-based interior design firm, Lane Kelley is about to land her dream promotion when devastating news about her brother draws her back home–a quaint tourist town full of memories she’d just as soon forget. With her cell phone and laptop always within reach, Lane aims to check on her brother while staying focused on work–something her eclectic family doesn’t understand.
Ryan Brooks never expected to settle down in Harbor Pointe, Michigan, but after his final tour of duty, it was the only place that felt like home. Now knee-deep in a renovation project that could boost tourism for the struggling town, he is thrilled to see Lane, the girl he secretly once loved, even if the circumstances of her homecoming aren’t ideal.
Their reunion gets off to a rocky start, however, when Ryan can’t find a trace of the girl he once knew in the woman she is today. As he slowly chips away at the walls Lane has built, secrets from his past collide with a terrible truth even he is reluctant to believe. Facing a crossroads that could define his future with Lane and jeopardize his relationship with the surrogate family he’s found in the Kelleys, Ryan hopes Lane can see that maybe what really matters has been right in front of her all along–if only she’d just look up.
This novel is AMAZING. In some ways, this was one of the hardest books I have read in a long time. This novel is told via the points of view of two uniquely damaged narrators: Lane and Ryan. Lane, is a tortured woman. Her past has hurt her so deeply she has done everything to keep ALL people at arm’s length including her family…especially her family. This novel was hard to read because it was like looking into a mirror. I know what it is like to do everything in my power to keep people out. I was born an introvert, so keeping people away is kind of part of my DNA, but because of a few truly awful bullies in my life and some excruciatingly rough moments, I learned to LOVE every corner away from the crowd where I could escape with a good book. I am the person who is so afraid of people I always have a ready excuse at hand just in case I need to escape. Lane escapes life through her work; if it’s not work related, she too always has ready excuses for avoiding everything. What I loved so much about Lane’s character is how realistic she is: her fears, her pain, the way she hides, the way she runs away, how she slowly, through God’s help, eases herself back into life — oh my goodness, so realistic.
Ryan Brooks is a phenomenal character. He is a good man. He is a God-fearing man. He acts his faith. Ryan had a tough life as a kid. His mother ran off when he was little, and he took it upon himself to protect his little sister from their abusive, alcoholic father. When he is a little boy, he has an encounter with Lane’s dad that changes his life forever. What I love about Ryan the most is that of all the characters in this book he should totally be the closed off character. His life growing up was hard: hunger, abuse, having to be the adult well before his time, etc. BUT, he doesn’t let these circumstances make him bitter and negative. He channels his experiences to make him a better man. I respect his character so much. Ms. Walsh did an excellent job with Ryan; he is beautifully and realistically written.
This novel also makes a great point about disconnecting. The title is perfect: Just Look Up. That is part of Lane’s problem: she has become so “connected” to her social medias, to her cell phone notifications, to her emails, to her projects, that she never looks up anymore. Once she has been disconnected and weaned off of her phone for a month, she realizes all she has lost and all she has missed out on, and realizes she must make change. Such an excellent reminder. We are all connected these days, and in some ways it is really cool to be in touch with people around the world, but are these the right connections? Are people sitting next to us that we don’t really see anymore because we are too busy being “connected”? Do we need to look up? What are we missing out on?
Just Look Up is the first Courtney Walsh novel I have read…it will not be the last. Ms. Walsh is an amazing writer. This story is fast-paced, poignant, and genuine. Some of the moments in this book are so well written, I had to put the book down, take a step back, and gather my emotions before I could continue reading. Ms. Walsh’s ability to extract emotions from her readers is incredible. I truly felt things reading this novel that I hadn’t felt in a long time. It made me stop and remember the girl I used to be. It made me thank God for how far I have come. It made me laugh out loud. It made me cry several times. My heart broke for all Lane and Ryan had gone through. I had a visceral, emotional reaction to this novel. It was cathartic and a blessing. I cannot recommend this novel enough. When it comes out on July 4th, run to the book store and get a copy of this beautiful novel. You will not be sorry that you did.