Title: Lighting the Way Home
Author: E.M. Lynley and Shira Anthony
Cover Artist: L.C. Chase
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Publisher Buy Link: Lighting the Way Home
Length: 206 pages
chef Joshua Golden is homesick for Paris before he even arrives in New
York, but he’ll endure it—his parents need him to help run the family
restaurant while his mother recovers from surgery. Running a place so
far beneath his talents is bad enough, but bad turns to worse when Josh
discovers his former best friend and lover, Micah Solomon, is living at
his parents’ house with his ten-year-old son, Ethan.
years, Josh has done his best to forget how Micah shattered his heart
into tiny pieces. Now Micah’s back, fresh out of prison, and helping out
at the restaurant. Micah may not be the kind of sous chef Josh is used
to, but he is more helpful and supportive than any of the other
employees. But Josh finds it hard to keep his distance when, time after
time, Micah proves himself a better man than Josh thought. Reluctantly,
Josh realizes there is more to Micah than his lousy life choices… but
that doesn’t mean Josh is ready to forgive him.
was a peek into a fully realized society for me—part of our American
life but unique and with deep flavor. It’s not my background, but I
wasn’t lost, and I was definitely intrigued. This is life in a New York
Jewish community that’s accessible for those of us who aren’t of that
background. The community was palpable but not overwhelming; Josh and
Micah fit in but not in any predictable pattern.
There’s pain and
longing that go way back, mixed with huge dollops of family expectation
and broken hopes. And out of this potent mix, the authors bring the two
protagonists through the mess into a place where they might be happy at
last. Micah couldn't possibly have hurt Josh so badly had Josh not
loved Micah so deeply, and the authors make us watch how tattered love
can become whole again.
Individually, each author has written
books that I have sunk into and enjoyed, and together EM Lynley and
Shira Anthony have created something seamless and vivid. However these
two manage their collaboration, it works. The style is smooth and
readable, and carries the story forward.
Josh grew up in the
restaurant business, but has left kosher food and all it implies far,
far behind. French food, luscious enough to tempt chefs with Michelin
stars, is worlds away from the homey Eastern European kosher cooking he
grew up on, and it’s his life now. An ocean between him and Micah, who
broke his heart a hundred times over, is just barely enough. Now Josh is
home to mind the store a while for his ailing parents. And Micah seems
to have taken his place as dutiful son.
Watching Josh go from
curled up in an emotional fetal position to open and loving is the great
character arc of this book—he’s arranged his life to avoid dealing with
pain that’s entirely in his face now. From his parents to his former
lover, to the life he has and the life that he could have, Josh has to
reevaluate everything. His mother and father have gone frail, Micah has a
ten year old son, an ex-wife, and a prison record, and Josh is frothing
at the mouth to get back to a kitchen that serves not-kosher food. It’s
all as far from what he once had and hoped for as he can get. All
driven by pain.
Micah doesn’t get any POV scenes, but that’s fine
because he is unrolled in small doses as Josh can cope with him. Josh
sees details as he can, and Micah is who he is, but slowly unveiled in
all his complexity. Micah’s hurt everyone he loves, and is working
through his amends. He’s a wonderful character, and in ways he’s deeper
than Josh is, because he’s had to come to an ultimate understanding of
who he is and what drives him. Fatherhood and the responsibility for
another person adds to that. Ethan, his son, doesn’t steal any scenes or
spout pages of adorable regurgitated wisdom; he’s just a ten year old
who loves his father, wants to play basketball with his buddies, and
accepts that his home is where his father is, not a house or apartment.
He’s so normal I wanted to feed him pizza and check his homework.
are a few plot issues that one can see coming, mostly because it has to
work out that way else one character or another would be a selfish
sub-human (It’s a roller coaster ride, sometimes I wondered—and that’s a
good thing!), but the “how it works out” doesn’t disappoint in any way.
Other issues make perfect sense after you read the passages and think a
little, which adds a delightful complexity to the story. One or two
instances I definitely didn’t see coming but given one of the authors’
legal background, I am prepared to believe entirely once it’s explained.
few plot points are left open ended rather than extend this timeline as
far out as total resolution would need. I anticipate a follow-up story
more than wish every loose end had been tied here. There’s hope, and for
where it’s needed, it’s enough. The rest, we’re left happy.
enjoyed this story from top to bottom, and I can only imagine how
someone more steeped in Jewish culture will see plot points in greater
nuance than I can. There are the familiar trappings of Chanukah, but the
latkes and candles aren't the plot here: they are the sense of family
and continuity. Beshert, judging from dreamy looks and secret
smiles from those I asked who ought to know, has to mean more than
“meant to be”, but for Joshua and Micah, it’s good. It’s a foundation
for a lifetime. 4.5 stars.