Home At Last

Fiction - Realistic
314 Pages
Reviewed on 01/08/2016
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Marta Tandori for Readers' Favorite

Home at Last is the third book in author Jan Sikes’ autobiographical ode to the enduring love story between her and her husband, told through the story of Darlina Flowers and Luke Stone. It’s most definitely a three-hankie read, but quite frankly, any good book worth its salt usually is and this one is right up there with the best of them. Sikes’ first book, Flowers & Stone, chronicles Darlina and Luke’s beginning; The Convict & the Rose chronicles how Luke ended up in jail; and Home at Last – well, you can pretty much guess what this installment is about.

The year is 1985. Darlina Flowers has sold her modest home in Shreveport, packed up all her worldly possessions and is making the move to a dirty, desolate little town in Texas called Coleman where Luke’s family lives. After 15 years in prison, Luke’s been granted parole and is on his way home to Coleman where the two of them, along with their young daughters, will soon begin their new lives together as man and wife. While Darlina and the girls are greeted warmly by Luke’s mother, it’s evident from the infestation of cockroaches in her kitchen and by the condition of Luke’s younger brother Bobby, afflicted by both cancer and a stroke that has left him debilitated, that good fortune hasn’t exactly blessed the Stone family. However, one thing remains abundantly clear from the moment Darlina and Luke see each other for the first time at the bus station – their love has remained steadfast and true. Darlina and Luke’s subsequent wedding and the way everyone has pitched in to make it memorable is very touching and is definitely worthy of one of those hankie moments, especially as the two of them say their own vows with a heartfelt poignancy that will make readers pine for just one moment in their own lives in which they could be loved as fiercely and unconditionally as Darlina and Luke love each other. However, it doesn’t take long for the harsh reality of everyday life to rear its ugly head. Money is scarce, as is finding work if you’re an ex-con. While the daily trials and tribulations of trying to provide for their family cast an ugly, albeit realistic pall over the story, the constant element is Darlina and Luke’s unwavering love for each other and for their girls.

If all this makes you think that Home at Last is a sugar-coated, sappy autobiography, you can forget that right now. Sikes pulls no punches in her descriptions of time and place and hardships. They’re vivid and come to life through the author’s talents as a writer, guided by a plethora of bittersweet memories. Surprisingly, Sikes’ prose is straightforward and she doesn’t resort to the overuse of adjectives in order to gain reader sympathy. Some might argue that her prose isn’t particularly polished and they’d probably be right. At the end of the day, however, all that doesn’t matter. Home at Last has been written from the heart. Sikes has chronicled her memories and, in the process, laid bare her soul for all to see – or read, as the case may be. This is where that last hankie comes in…

Eduardo Aduna

Luke Stone is free and ready to start life anew. Together with the beautiful Darlina Flowers and a loyal cadre of family and friends, he must learn to navigate the world outside of prison and rekindle his zest for all the joy and happiness life can bring.

A lovingly crafted chronicle of the latter part of a life lived to the fullest, Jan Sikes' Home At Last exudes charm and hope even amidst the direst of circumstances. Every chapter, every scenario is written from a viewpoint tinged with evident love. Tears and smiles accompany every turn of the page and even the most serious problems are approached with steadfast determination and unflinching hope. Home at Last takes a good look at life and highlights the key moments that make living worthwhile: building a family, finding meaningful work, sharing one's blessings, and spending time with friends along the way. Jan Sikes writes with clarity and resolve. She portrays each and every character with fondness and nostalgia.

One of the key things I loved was the way Jan Sikes captured the realities of living a hardscrabble existence and in trying to eke out a living in a harsh world. Most people go through life wishing only to highlight the good moments and ignore the bad, but Jan Sikes manages to accurately portray what it is like to sacrifice and struggle, and to show that the journey itself can be as rewarding as the prize at the end. A true story told in such a way that can make readers pause and take stock of their very own existence, Home At Last is a novel that can definitely touch and brighten people's lives.

Mamta Madhavan

Home At Last by Jan Sikes is an interesting story that revolves around the life of Luke Stone who leaves Leavenworth prison after fifteen years. Without looking back, he decides to start anew and goes to Texas where his family lives. The author tells her tale through this beautiful love story where she brings alive the magic of living in Texas. Third in the series, the book begins with Darlina Flowers meeting Luke Stone at the bus station after fifteen long years. She wonders if he will still be the same man she fell in love with once. Luke, at the same time, is waiting to be with his supportive family and restart his life all over again.

The book is all about damaged family ties, hope, trying to survive against all odds and bring up a family, a lasting bond, adversities in life that threaten relationships, and struggles that uproot one's life. The characters and the emotions are tangible and readers can connect well with them. The black and white pictures complement the narrative well. The story is fast paced and the author's fluidity in writing and expressing makes it exciting. The author weaves in sadness and joy effortlessly and does give some lighter moments too. It's a well written love story where eventually, despite all the odds, love triumphs. I enjoyed the way the author narrated her own story, the ups and downs in her life, the hope she never lost, and her faith in her relationship with the man she loved. An exciting story of loss and triumph.

Janelle Fila

Home at Last by Jan Sikes is a fictionalized love story based around her true life experiences. This is the third book in a series based on Jan's life and begins when Luke Stone is released from prison after fifteen years in 1985. He and Darlina have such a deep love for one another that Darlina moves to Texas to marry Luke weeks after his release. Then, the story continues about their struggle as a married couple, living in a small town in West Texas. Luke is just out of prison and finding work is hard. They are looked down upon by some of their neighbors and people within the town, especially because of the intense poverty that they live in. This love story shows that when true love is involved, none of that matters.

This very sweet tale will inspire readers and touch heartstrings. It shows how love can triumph over any adversity, including fifteen years separated by prison bars, and deep poverty and frustrations as the couple tries to build a quiet, peaceful life together for the first time in fifteen years. Because it is based around a true story, the heartbreak and despair are that much more intense. The story is tender, romantic, and sweet, but also inspiring as it talks about how love can overcome obstacles like poverty and unemployment. It gives hope to readers who have a special loved one (but maybe not much else) and to those who are looking for and believe their special loved one is out there.

Kerliza Foon

Jan Sikes writes a moving tale about second chances and finding home in Home At Last. Luke Stone is paroled after spending fifteen years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Upon his release, he reunites with his former flame Darlina Flowers. They get married and set out on a journey to make the best of their second chance together and build a life filled with happiness and love. Along the way, Darlina encourages Luke to pick up his guitar and continue to make music. Will Luke be able to pick up where he left off? Or will old habits take over and destroy everything he has worked for?

Jan Sikes' Home At Last was a moving story. Even without reading the first book, you are able to identify and connect with the characters. As they face many challenges, you feel as if you are watching them grow and change. The characters' growth and maturity as the book progresses reflect the author's understanding of how people change over time. The plot was interesting in the idea that people who get second chances can take advantage of them. Reading a story about making second chances work and doing all you can to make the best of it was inspiring. Luke had his moments, but his fighting spirit and desire to do what was right, and in the best way he knew how, made him an interesting character. Darlina's love for Luke shone throughout the book and her faith in him is captivating. A well written story that leaves you wanting a relationship as strong as the one Luke and Darlina share.