When we share of ourselves with other people, we often find ourselves. It doesn’t take much to reach out and in the end the rewards are usually greater than the effort. In “Desert Medicine” by Judy Alexander, a newly single mother in transition discovers the giving and receiving of being an unselfish friend, but she also discovers herself, her truth, and her desire to trust again.
Laurelle is a mother of five year old twins. She works two jobs, is divorcing her cheating husband, and agrees to visit a homebound member of her church. Rhoda has terminal cancer, but her early life did more damage to her spirit. When Laurelle visits, Rhoda shares stories that tell of her growing up in Texas during the Depression and then in Calexico, California, as her aunt’s live in babysitter. With an abusive alcoholic father, Rhoda was lucky to have the escape. Laurelle listens, at first reluctantly, but then is captivated by this woman’s strength and determination to survive. She is learning about her own life though these tales as she applies certain lessons to her dealings with her children’s father and her impending divorce. Her current life carries on.
Invitations to singles’ events at the church, meeting a man at traffic school, a new puppy, and the holidays all put Laurelle on an emotional roller coaster of ups and downs. Realizing that she is bringing joy to Rhoda’s life is a gift unto itself but Laurelle is also receiving support and love just when she needs it most. It gives her enough perspective to find these things within her own family too. Rhoda becomes an integral part of her children’s lives and just when she understands how close she is to this elderly woman, Laurelle begins to doubt what she’s been told. Can she ever trust again? Is there hope for love in her life?
Judy Alexander has written a captivating tale in two voices. Laurelle is someone whom many readers can identify with and her struggles are unfortunately too common. Her story is familiar and her character is likable. Rhoda’s tales are sprinkled throughout the book in a different font and dialect, giving her a charm all her own. Hers too is a familiar tale of a different generation. The plot of the book runs like a gentle but fast running river, deep and green, embracing the rocks of life and passing under the bridges that connect us all. “Desert Medicine” is a book you won’t want to put down but will be sorry to come to the end of. I look forward to more from this author in the future.
by Judy Alexander
Review by Heather Froeschl