JUSTREAD REVIEW: Second Chance at Happiness by Greta Picklesimer!

Monday, April 18, 2022


Hey everyone! Today I have a review of Second Chance at Happiness by Greta Picklesimer, a historical novel set soon after the Civil War. Check out the info below before reading my review!


After Catherine Reed’s husband dies in a tragic logging accident, Catherine and her four-year-old daughter, Clair, move home with Catherine’s mother and brother in order to accept a new position as the teacher for the town’s one-room schoolhouse. But Catherine carries a dark secret that she hasn’t even shared with her mother. Will she ever find forgiveness?

Samuel Harris has suffered his own loss, losing his wife and unborn child over a year prior. Although he is the town’s preacher, he struggles to trust God, blaming God for allowing him to be absent when his wife died. The guilt has burdened him ever since. But when his old flame Catherine Reed comes back to town, he wonders if they can find healing together.

Catherine believes that anyone who wants to learn should be allowed to learn, but she is quick to find a town divided on that issue. As she and Samuel set out to change people’s minds in a post-Civil War era, they find themselves drawn to each other over and over again. As they join together for the same cause, could they also find a second chance at happiness?

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Greta Picklesimer is Michigan born and raised by Kentucky-transplanted parents. She accepted Jesus as her Savior at the age of five—a happy day in her memory. Besides writing, Greta spends time working on her art journal, painting with watercolors and oil pastels. She is owned by one rescue cat by the name of Pearlie Blue who was named after her father's favorite Bluegrass song. By day Greta works as an office assistant. By night, she writes.


I was excited to read this novel, considering the time frame, jobs, and geographical location of the characters. Picklesimer presents some very interesting dilemmas -- stuck in the aftermath of the Civil War, when sometimes neighbors chose (or were conscripted for) different sides to fight on, I hoped it would be compelling. I appreciated the historical accuracy the author presents, and ended up reading this book in one evening because of that accuracy. The characters initially seemed like they would have fantastic character arcs, but it felt like that arc didn't follow through for both Catherine and Samuel, and a lot of the romantic scenes felt ill-timed or awkward. So while this is an interesting book that kept me reading for the sheer amount of conflict the characters face, and the author's prose developed nicely throughout the story, the plot and resolutions ultimately could have been stronger. 

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