Courtney Walsh. Just Look Up. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2017.
Throughout her previous novels, Courtney Walsh expertly brings small towns to life. Her characters jump off the page, while the towns themselves could easily be one’s next vacation spot.
In Just Look Up, Lane Kelley has made a name for herself as a Chicago-based interior designer. Lane works tirelessly to achieve a much-deserved promotion, even as her colleagues know nothing about her personally. When her brother ends up in a coma, Lane must travel back to her hometown and finally face her family after years of self-inflicted exile. The town of Harbor Pointe, Michigan, offers little of the ideal escape for Lane, even as she encounters lifelong family friend, Ryan Brooks. Ryan made his own escape via the military from a horrible family situation, but is excited to finally help the local area’s tourism through a business project of his own. However, he needs Lane’s expertise in order to finish the project. Together, Ryan and Lane must navigate their respective pasts in order to finally determine a way to build a future.
Ms. Walsh’s most recent novel points to the importance of looking up from one’s work and own problems to instead focus on other people and events beyond oneself. Throughout much of the novel, Lane maintains a firm grip on her cell phone and work projects, even as she discovers that it negatively impacts her health and happiness. As Ms. Walsh indicates in the author’s notes, the lessons of this novel are ones that many people encounter, including the author herself.
Overall, I rather enjoyed reading Just Look Up. Personally, the novel was one of my favorites written by Ms. Walsh. I really appreciated her contrast of Lane’s Chicago lifestyle with the quaint town of Harbor Pointe. Additionally, the various characters were quite interesting and unique, fitting appropriately within their various settings. In general, I wished to see more description of Lane’s interior design projects and process, as the “work” that she does makes up a significant component of the story. Instead, these sections are glossed over, even as they may have offered some intriguing opportunities to build further dialogue and complexity among some of the main characters. However, I realize that Ms. Walsh was probably attempting to keep a tighter focus on building her story. I am curious to see if Ms. Walsh decides to continue to write stories based in and around Harbor Pointe or if her next novel will move in a different direction.
Fans of Ms. Walsh’s previous works, as well as other contemporary Christian fiction, will enjoy reading Just Look Up.
Special thanks to NetGalley and Tyndale House Publishers for an advanced copy of Just Look Up!
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