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Reviewed by Hilary Hawkes for Readers' Favorite
Southbound Birds by Janetta Fudge Messmer is the perfect sequel to her earlier book, Early Birds. Two retired couples, Rose and Larry and Betsy and Ben, are great friends and their travels across country (joined later by another couple, Mary and Jeff) to Biloxi and then Florida in their RV’s bring them into contact with adventures, new friends, and people to help. Their mission is to go where God directs them and take on any challenges that they know are meant just for them. Mishaps, hilarities, calamities, puzzles and profound moments abound. This time Betsy has an additional challenge of her own. And can the friends really make any difference to the life of one young woman and her teenage daughter, as well as finding a way to help Linda find an opening for her talent?
Janet Fudge Messmer’s writing just bounces along and I was drawn into the entertaining and adventurous lives of the characters from the very first chapter. I loved Early Birds and this sequel did not disappoint – of course, this one can be read without reading the first, but I can recommend not missing out. Rose and Larry and other characters are depicted so well – their personalities, concerns and relationships with one another are very believable. I loved the humor and the banter between them and their openness and ongoing willingness to understand each other. In many ways, Southbound Birds is an exploration of how relationships might be challenged and strengthened when individuals set off and leave their normal environments and routines behind.
How prayer helps and guides the characters is an important theme. This is a Christian novel too then, and the travels of the four characters act as an inspiration. As Rose says: “It’s not the destination, it’s finding people we can help along our journey.” An entertaining, thought-provoking and enjoyable story with very likable characters and plenty of surprises too.