Franklin Tern is coming home. Or at least the place he called home thirty years ago. Franklin spent the best years of his childhood at Bossen Hill, his family’s small resort. But with his Uncle Robert dead, the business of putting the affairs of Bossen Hill in order fall to Frank. Instead of the idyllic inn of his memory, he finds the old house falling into ruin and managed by Tommy, the boy who got away.
Tom Benjamin hasn’t known much easiness in his life. Mired in poverty and the child of a loving, but overwhelmed alcoholic, Tom struggled growing up and things haven’t gotten much better as an adult. At least he’d had Robert, who’d been friend and father before his death and for a while there had been Frankie. Thirty years of hurt, mistrust, and misunderstanding separate them now, but beneath it all there’s still Frankie and Tommy, the two boys who belonged to one another long before a cruel reality separated them. Rebuilding all that was broken will be hard, but worth the work if they can do it together.
Oh boy, what a roller coaster Renewing Forever was — so many feels! Renewing Forever is the second in the This Time Forever series and while characters from the first book pop up, Renewing Forever can be read as a standalone.
Franklin is nearly 50 and while he has a successful career as a journalist, he can’t help wondering if there’s something more. Frankie likes to pretend he’s full of fluff and a bit shallow, but there’s serious depth to him and when he’s with Tom, we see he truth of him. He does, at times, tend to jump to conclusions where Tommy is concerned, which is annoying. But on the whole, he’s easy to like, even if we can’t always understand some of his motives. Tom is the real heart and soul of this book though. He’s so broken and beaten by life that it’s impossible not to care about him. He’s got such heart and devotion to others and basically leaves none for himself. So there were times I just wanted to shake Frank and demand that he start taking care of Tom properly. Which is absurd of course, but it shows how well written these characters are. It’s so easy to be consumed by them and that’s something author Kelly Jensen really excels at.
I think one of the things this book does well is address the reality of what it means to be single and the only child of an ill parent. Tom sacrifices everything to provide his mother with elder care and he has to do it alone. There are no siblings to help and given the state of the resort, no steady work to live comfortably. So often in books we see a character just go off and live their dreams and it all seems to work out. But that isn’t the reality for most people and in Tom we someone who understands devotion on a deeper level than most. That doesn’t mean he’s a saint and handles every situation appropriately, but there was a realism to his situation that I, as a single person and the only child of aging parents, could appreciate.
Neither Tom nor Frank do so well alone, but when they’re together, they shine and that relationship really elevates Renewing Forever beyond a simple romance. And while Frank can be somewhat harder to understand and appreciate when compared to Tom, they both work on a lot of levels. I think this book will appeal to just about everybody who enjoys engaging characters and some serious angst.