This is my first time participating in a TLC Book Tour – when the book first showed up on my doorstep about a week ago, I was pretty excited. Stepping to a New Day took me to a small town in Kansas named Henry Adams. This is my first book of Beverly Jenkins that I’ve read, but the town is one she frequents in her writing. The cast of characters is large (seemingly the whole town itself), and reading through and getting to know some of the characters, I could imagine what Henry Adams is like. One of my favorite characters is TC, who comes to this tiny place from Oakland. TC is in town help his nephew, who is recently divorced and raising his kids on his own. It’s a bit of a change for him, but one that he seems to like.
It’s in Henry Adams that he meets Genevieve (Gen), a vibrant, kind woman, on the verge of remaking herself. In this small town, it’s hard for her to reinvent herself, though she seems to determined to stay. Burned by her previous relationship, interestingly her ex-husband loved a pig (???). She returns to town, even after having her ego bruised. In a small town, it goes without saying, that everyone knows your business. It was brave of her to go back, yet it seems as if she had no where else to go. She volunteers with a local adult literacy group to help adults improve their reading skills. As TC gets to know her better, it is clear that he can’t read. She just might be the perfect person to help.
Before reading this book, I didn’t know much about Beverly Jenkins, or the series of books she wrote about this town. It would be interesting to know what had happened in the town in these previous books, but it wasn’t necessary to enjoy this story. There seems to be a lot of history between the characters, which may have been revealed in the previous books. TC may be new to this cast of characters, but seems to fit right in.
I’ve never lived in a small town like this one, and don’t think I’d want to. The book explores some of the benefits, and downfalls of living in a small town like Henry Adams. Gen can’t escape her past, everyone seems to remind her of who she was. But on the other hand, there is love, help, and genuine concern for her.
This isn’t a book I would’ve normally read, but I really enjoyed the story. There was a moral to the story, that it’s never too late to change. It’s never too late to start over. Gen and TC are both in their 60s, and are undaunted in the face of change. One takeaway from the book, the author’s notes at the end point out that there are 32 million functionally illiterate adults in this country. She also defines what this means, and how this may affect an adult’s life. There’s also information on how to help, including how to access some of the tools that Gen used. Her work, and what she was able to do for TC, was for me the best part of the book. It’s an important issue, and probably needs more attention.