Is It Any Wonder
Tyndale House Publishing (2021)
Reviewed by Megan Weiss for Reader Views (05/2021)
Courtney Walsh’s “Is It Any Wonder” is the second book in her Nantucket Love Story series, but it can be read as a standalone. The book features heroine Louisa Chambers, who must come to terms to with a personal tragedy that drastically altered her life when she was a teenager.
As a young girl and teenager, Nantucket meant one thing specifically: Cody Boggs. Both born on June 30th to parents who were already the best of friends, it seemed inevitable Louisa and Cody would have a close bond. They went from attached-at-the-hip childhood playmates to head-over-heels-in-love teenagers almost seamlessly, until one mistake of a kiss with another boy led Louisa to break Cody’s heart when they were seventeen, and which helped set in motion the events that led to Cody’s father’s death. Twelve years later, Cody is back–stationed in Nantucket with the Coast Guard and tasked with working with his ex-best friend to help improve the Coast Guard’s image after a rescue-attempt gone wrong led to one teenage boy being left in a coma. Louisa and Cody will need to put aside their differences and come together once again in order to achieve their goal, and maybe even gain some closure along the way.
I was pleased with the way Walsh presented the theme of forgiveness in this book, both on the part of the protagonist forgiving herself and in how she seeks the forgiveness of others. “Is It Any Wonder” gives us a protagonist who has never forgiven herself for what she believes is the role she played in the death of her best friend’s father. This was heightened by the fact that Cody had lashed out at Louisa after the tragedy occurred, along with the blame Cody’s mom seemed to place squarely at the feet of the young woman. I was pleased because Louisa clearly feels guilty for kissing another guy while she was with Cody all those years ago, and realizes that she did something wrong, but at the same time blaming herself for the death of his father takes her guilt to the extreme. Ever since, it seems like Louisa has been trying to “make up” for her mistake, to the point where she writes unsent letters to Cody, his mom, and his deceased father apologizing and saying how she wishes she could go back and undo it all.
“Is It Any Wonder” presents readers with the age-old human instinct to blame others when we feel pain, because sometimes it is easier to look for others to take your emotions out on than to try to process them all by yourself. Unfortunately, however, this usually means that we end up alienating those who we should be leaning on the most.
The resolution of “Is It Any Wonder” teaches readers that forgiveness does not necessarily mean that everything will go back to the way it was before mistakes were made. It does mean, however, that there may now be a new path forward that will help ease the hurt in the future. For Cody, this meant finding the gumption to tell Louisa that he did not blame her for his father’s death. For Louisa, this meant finding her way back into Cody’s life, while realizing that despite his forgiveness and their love for each other, there will be many bumps in the road along the way. Realizing that it’s not perfection she should be striving for, but progress, seems to be when Louisa finally reaches the top of her growth as a character.
“Is It Any Wonder” is perfect for lovers of contemporary romance, women’s fiction, and has subtle elements of Christian fiction weaved within the book that will endear fans of faith-based literature, while not being so heavy that it might turn off readers who are not as drawn to religious rhetoric. It is a fast-paced, witty, wholesome story that is relatable, a little heartbreaking, and entirely un-put-downable.