13033665Reviewed by A.D. Cole

Ivorie Walker is a spinster, by 1950 Tennessee standards. In her early thirties, her life up until this point has been spent working a small farm with her parents and then caring for them as they aged and eventually passed away. The good people of Morgan Hill bemoan her lack of prospects and the fact that she will never be a mother. Now, newly alone and without a man, Ivorie finds herself rambling about her empty home. She feels empty herself, and without purpose. Until she finds the little boy who’s been stealing from her garden.

From the moment she sets eyes on him, Ivorie recognizes, deep inside of herself, that this boy is meant to fill what’s missing in her life. And when she discovers the unspeakable abuse that he is suffering, she doesn’t hesitate to strap on a rifle, ride a mule into the hills, and rescue him. The community of Morgan Hill is tight and everyone has an opinion. So when Ivorie declares she’s keeping the boy, tongues begin to wag. She receives support from those she loves the most. And even from some surprising corners. But there are plenty of gossip-mongers anxious to be the loudest in declaring her folly.

Still, Ivorie never asked for anyone’s approval and remains unaffected by the opinions of others. She has committed to caring for this boy and raising him. She expects her future to be riddled with hard work and pain, but also with redemption and joy. What she doesn’t expect, and what surprises her so wondrously, is that this path she has chosen will change her into something she’d previously given up hope of ever becoming: a mother.

The Good Dream was beautifully told from three perspectives: Ivorie’s, Ivorie’s brother Henry’s, and the boy’s. The boy is later given a name, and his perspective changes from third person to first person when he finally gains his voice. Throughout the novel we follow the evolution of his voice. Both as it arises from the emotional depths of fear and despair; and as it progresses physically after the discovery of an untreated cleft palate.

Ivorie’s evolution into motherhood is even more uplifting and surprising. There is no doubt that she is a good person doing a good thing for her fellow man. But even she doubts her ability to perform the acts of motherhood when she isn’t really a mother.

It seems no matter how progressive our society, the possibility of becoming a mother to an adopted child seems so foreign and unrealistic to most people. When I read Ivorie’s story, when I watch the pieces of her that shift around to form her into a mother, I recognize what I felt upon the birth of my first child. And I recognize that it is possible to become a true mother in this alternative way. It is, in fact, one of the most beautiful character developments I’ve ever read. You will in no way doubt the legitimacy of Ivorie’s claim to motherhood when this story is over.

I loved everything about this book. The pacing was good. It was hard to put down, in fact. The voices were very authentic. It’s set in Tennessee, but it felt like home, for me, and likely would to anyone from the Midwest. There were difficult moments, but the triumphant ones outweighed them. Overall it was an uplifting book, both sweet and inspiring. I highly recommend this to anyone wanting a good, human story with very real characters and a positive ending. And though it’s a work of fiction, I also recommend it because of the adoption theme, for anyone interested in that.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

A.D. Cole is a homeschooling mother and aspiring romance novelist. She lives in the Ozark foothills and spends her free time reading, writing, baking and pondering life’s little mysteries.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by St. Martin’s Griffin. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.