A Walk Along the Beach, by Debbie Macomber, is a poignant reminder that tomorrow is not promised and the greatest thing in life is to love and be loved. Willa and her younger sister Harper are extremely close after suffering through the untimely death of their mother and Harper’s subsequent battle with and victory over Leukemia. Things seem to be looking up as Willa’s small cafe, Bean There, and Harper’s health and lust for life are flourishing. Even their father’s alcoholism, which took over his life after the death of their mother, has been more under control. When Willa, who is quite introverted, finds herself on the receiving end of attention from her attractive customer, Sean O’Malley, she is finally starting to believe in that proverbial rainbow after a storm. But when life suddenly starts to splinter and Sean’s job takes him away right when she needs him most, Willa questions whether she should ever expose her heart again.
Willa’s story of family, friendship, heartache and love is easy to relate to on so many levels. We all have family we love dearly who encounter struggles that we would take from them, if we could, but who we can only be there for to share in their pain. There are no guarantees in life and those who have suffered from cancer and illness know that personally.
Being able to still see the joy in life and live each day to the fullest are hallmarks of survivors like Harper. For Willa, her past devotion to her seriously ill sister has only made her more fearful for the future and very guarded with her heart, which makes it even more surprising to Willa when Sean is able to open her heart and mind to a future possibility of peace and happiness. That all changes when he is not there for her when she needs him the most which ultimately makes her realize that love is both a choice and the thing that matters.
I found A Walk Along the Beach to be a heart-warming story of sisterly devotion and romantic love between imperfect people who fall short of each other’s expectations when faced with the difficulties of life. However, while I enjoyed the premise of the story and the emotional ebb and flows that accompanied the life events I found that the first half of the book was spattered with repetitious litanies of emotional declarations that by the fourth or fifth time had me skimming whole sections. This is not to say you shouldn’t read A Walk Along the Beach, just that you should push through those sections to get to the heart of the story.