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Welcome to Harmony, by Jodi Thomas

Between having a couple of older books by Ms Thomas in the scarily huge TBR mountain range and seeing this novel mentioned often around the blogosphere, I couldn’t help but pick it up when I saw it at my local grocery store. I am glad I did.

Ms Thomas’ writing voice is both soothing and engaging; so much so that it took me a good hundred and fifty pages to wonder whether Welcome to Harmony was a romance. It so happens it is not—classified as mainstream fiction in Ms Thomas’ own website and with the word “novel” in the spine, the novel focuses mainly on Reagan’s growth during the first few months of her stay in Harmony, though not as exclusively as the blurb may make you believe:

A place to belong

Sixteen-year-old runaway Reagan has always wanted a place to belong. She’s never had a real home of her own, but maybe she can borrow someone else’s. At least for a little while…

At the nursing home where Reagan works, Miss Beverly Truman’s fond memories of Harmony, Texas, seem to fill an empty space inside the girl. After Miss Beverly passes away, Reagan travels to Harmony, pretending to be the woman’s granddaughter, and is taken into the home of Beverly’s surviving brother.

Still, Reagan is afraid to trust the gruff kindness shown to her by Jeremiah Truman and the warm friendship offered by another teenager named Noah, who dreams of being a rodeo star. She keeps her distance from Noah’s sister, Alex McAllen, who’s the town sheriff and busy with her own stormy relationship with volunteer fire chief Hank Matheson.

But when prairie fires threaten Harmony, Reagan learns the true meaning of family, friends, and home…

The novel starts as Reagan, having hitchhiked her way from Oklahoma, arrives in town. Inspired by the fond memories of a now dead old woman, she has decided that this little town in the middle of nowhere will be the starting point to the rest of her life.

Reagan, being a newcomer, is the perfect vehicle to introduce the reader to the town and its residents It is through her eyes that we meet many of the other characters whose lives and relationships make the fabric of the story, starting with the three ‘founding families’ of Harmony: the Trumans, the McAllens and the Mathesons—and their long standing feuds.

There are a number of threads weaving around each other throughout the novel. (more…)