Monday, August 23, 2010

Review: Leaving Before It's Over by Jean Reynolds Page

Leaving Before It's Over: A Novel  Leaving Before It's Over by Jean Reynolds Page tells the story of Roy Vines and his family - both old and new.  Roy Vines, a mechanic in a small North Carolina town, decided to leave his parents, twin brother and all claims to inheritance behind when he married his wife, Rosalind, and built a life with her and their two girls.  For fifteen years, he had no contact with his family and had reconciled himself to the fact that he found in his new family what he never got from his birth family - love, acceptance and support.  When his wife becomes ill with a blood disorder, however, and Roy needs money for her treatment, he decides to swallow his pride and return to his parents home to ask for financial assistance.  On that trip back to Virginia, his birth and new families collide and Roy faces the many definitions of family.

As Roy goes to his parents home in Virginia to ask for money, he is forced to face his feelings about his parents and brother.
"... Taylor was right, he knew, but with no present to draw on, past hurts made up the bulk of Roy's feelings about his extended family.  He couldn't make something out of nothing."
To further complicate a difficult family "reunion", there is the issue of 17 year old Luke.  Luke is presented as Roy's son whom he left behind in Virginia when he left to marry Rosalind.  Luke has been raised by Roy's parents and brother.  In Luke, Roy can see many of the hurts of his own childhood suffered at the hands of his family.  Although they provided shelter and structure for the boy, Roy can see that the boy has never received any support or encouragement.  He senses he has never felt truly wanted but cared for out of obligation. 

Although there is the family drama of secrets from years past and hurts by parents, the story is surprisingly comforting.  As we return with Roy to North Carolina, we observe the love he has for Rosalind and she for him and their shared love for their two girls, Lola and Janie Ray.  Lola, age sixteen, is beginning to explore dating and four year old Janie Ray is the loveable little sister always asking for someone to take her fishing.  There is an innocence about the lives of the Vine family in North Carolina and a purity about their love for the family they have built which is refreshing.  The cynical part of me kept waiting, chapter after chapter, for a tragedy to befall these characters.

Against the backdrop of the stern and manipulative Vines of Virginia, the family Roy has built in North Carolina is all the more triumphant - there is a hope in his ability to start fresh and provide for his children what he did not have as a child and build a partnership with his wife that he surely did not see modeled while growing up.  When he is forced to face those past hurts, his present life becomes all the more valuable.  I warmed to Roy's character and was consistently impressed by his "stand up" values and his ability to see good in people and do good for them.  All in all, this is an uplifting story with the meaning of family - especially the family you find and build - at its core.

Jean Reynolds Page is a new author for me but she has written three previous novels which also focus on the theme of family relationships  - conventional and unconventional. 

To read other perspectives on this book, stop in on some of the other bloggers hosting the tour of Leaving Before It's Over: A Novel.  Here are the hosts and dates:

Wednesday, August 25th: Scraps of Life
Tuesday, August 31st: Rundpinne
Thursday, September 2nd: Colloquium
Friday, September 3rd: Reading at the Beach
Tuesday, September 7th: Lisa’s Yarns
Thursday, September 9th: Shhh I’m Reading
Monday, September 13th: Café of Dreams
Tuesday, September 14th: Bookstack
Wednesday, September 15th: Book Club Classics!
Wednesday, September 22nd: Jenn’s Bookshelves

Thank you to Trish of TLC for the review copy of this book. This books meets the criteria of the "who are you?" category of the Twenty Ten Challenge.


  1. I always find reviews well written if I start to write down the name of a book and it's author so I can remember to investigate getting a copy of the novel - so well done on your excellent review. It sounds like a great read :)

  2. I like the sound of this book and I love that it's set in North Carolina and Virginia. The author's name is so familiar to me, but I haven't read any of her work.

  3. What a great review! I'm definitely adding this book to my tbr. i love reading books about returning home and facing the past.

  4. Great review - I need to read this book.

  5. haven't read this one but usually enjoy the books that tour on TLC. :) also, i'm a sucker for novels that center on the family dynamic.

  6. Nice review. This is a new to me author and having lived in North Carolina for a time, I love books set there.

  7. Nice review :)
    I must look this up, thank you.

  8. Newest blog follower, thanks to TLC Book Tours! You were stop #1 and I'm stop #2. I LOVE the colors of your blog! Great review, BTW!

    Stop in and say HI!

    Susieqtpies at Scraps of Life

  9. I'm so glad you enjoyed this book! I love stories that explore the different kinds of family, and this sounds like a great one. Thanks for being a part of the tour.