Author: Lynda Rutledge
Publisher: Penguin Group
ISBN: 978-0-425-26102-6

In Lynda Rutledge’s debut novel, Faith Bass Darling’s Last Garage Sale, the author hones in on how life gets complicated as the years march on when she writes, “The problem isn’t ‘things’ … It’s the thing. Everyone has one big, blinding thing that’s in the way.”

This three hundred and twenty-seven page paperback novel depicts a photograph of an antique pink couch and a wooden chest of drawers with a clock on top of it, resting in an overgrown field on the front cover. Splattered among the story line are short chapter lists of antique and interesting items, their monetary value and a short biography of their history. With some profanity and topics about Alzheimer disease, dying and personal relationships with people and God, the book is targeted toward mature teens and adults. At the end of the book is a twelve point reader’s guide with thought-provoking questions.

The date is December 31st, 1999, the eve of a new millennium, and wealthy Faith Bass Darling, age seventy with onset Alzheimer’s dementia, wakens in the middle of the night to hear God speaking to her after twenty years of supposed mutual silence. By being told by the Almighty to have a garage sale and rid of things and places that possess her, she gives away her earthly belongings for pennies as they are sprawled out on her huge Texan mansion lawn for new owners to hoard. But behind the request, there is so much more to her past that she must surrender to God, forgive and forget before she finds her desperately needed peace.

Besides the myriad of material possessions passed down throughout her rich family history of Tiffany lamps, gold coins, antique clocks, furniture, priceless jewelry, guns and old Bibles, she has to relive what happened twenty years ago, starting with the death of her teenage son and then her cold-hearted husband. As she floats in and out of reality, her long-lost daughter appears to deal with her own demons as both try to reestablish their broken relationship at the big mansion.

Fighting her Baptist upbringing in God, her soul-searching secret that forced her to become a hermit and her shattered obsession of materialism, those around the prim and proper Faith are caught up in her search for answers to why God allows us to follow down certain paths in life.

With her prior Buddhist daughter Claudia learning she can no longer run from her past, her son’s friend’s acceptance of himself and an Episcopal priest’s realization about a true commitment to Christ, Faith unknowingly helps connect the dots of discovery in the book’s multiple characters’ lives of those who not only buy her cherished treasures but those who live through her same sad memories.

Like Ecclesiastes in the Bible states, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven,” this book distinctly gives the reader the heart-felt feeling that our pasts make us who we are with incomprehensible reasons. Although this reader wishes there was less profanity, this is a humbling, well-written, thoughtful first novel that leaves you wanting to read more.

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