Review: 'Minnow Bay'

Novel brings alive Midwest heart

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By Stacie Gorkow, correspondent

Kelly Harms’ sophomore novel focuses on Lily, an artist, who has lived her life relying on others to clean up her messes. Her best friend, Renee, doesn’t seem to have much time for her as an attorney and mom. Her gallerist Mitchell, who is also her boyfriend, is only concerned about the next artpiece she is creating and not the current mess Lily has found herself in. Since she hasn’t turned out a painting lately, she is evicted from her apartment after missing rent. While cleaning out her apartment, Lily finds an envelope that takes her back to a night in Vegas and a man she had forgotten about, Ben Hutchinson. Once the shock of the contents of the envelope has sunk in, she jumps in her hatchback loaded with everything she has ever owned and travels to Minnow Bay, Wis., to find Ben and make things right.

Lily is a character you love, yet are annoyed with. Her naivety has let the people in her life walk all over her. During Lily’s stay in Minnow Bay, new characters emerge that have their own life issues and yet offer Lily kindness, generosity, and the reality check she needs. Minnow Bay is much like many other small towns in the Midwest where news travels faster that you can walk to the mailbox. It has all the quirky characters and small town struggles of staying afloat in the middle of the winter season. It also has people who genuinely care about each other — just what Lily needs.

Harms’ book is a light read that could easily be read in a weekend. The romance is light and without graphic detail. Friendships are heartfelt and humorous. The story is a bit silly and predictable, but the whole package works. Harms has the skill to put the reader into the scene with the location, temperature, scenery and emotions. It’s all there and the reader can visualize the story playing out before them. It’s not a skill all authors have, and she has it. Her writing reminds me of Beth Kendrick or Jane Green. Her characters will stay with you, and when the book ends, you’ll want to know more.

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