"Wherever Grace is Needed" by Elizabeth Bass
This is essentially the story of two families. One a family that has been disconnected through divorce and now faces a crisis and the other a family trying to find their way through a tragedy and grief that has paralyzed them. The common denominator that ties the two together is Grace Oliver. Grace has felt disconnected from her father and brothers ever since her mother moved her away to Portland in the aftermath of divorce when she was six. With only occasional visits to her father, she has always felt on the outside edges of the Oliver side of the family. When her brother calls to say that her dad has had an accident and has a broken leg, Grace puts her life on hold and returns home for a few weeks to help her father recover. When home the family is hit with the shock of finding that their father also is in the early stages of Alzheimer's and Grace extends her stay indefinitely. Next door to her father is a young family who has lost their mother and one daughter to a car accident the year before. The father in deep grief, cannot seem to be able to surface out of it in order to help his other children, one of whom feels responsible for the accident. As the family dynamics spiral downward the younger children (aged 10 & 15) find a friend in Grace and Mr. Oliver even as the older teen resents Grace for perceived intrusions into their life.
This was my first read by this author and I have to say I did enjoy it. It has lots of heart rending moments as each family deals with loss. The parts that really tore my heart were the ones that involved the kids and how they were dealing with the loss of mom and sister and now, basically, an absentee father. The author wove in heartwarming moments and light heartedness so what could have been a very heavy story was lifted by these parts of the story. There were however, a few cheesier moments in the story that did nothing to elevate it for me and the end did wrap up "all of a sudden" for me but for the most part it was a good story that involved me emotionally on many levels with the characters.