post written by Esther Filbrun
Title: Baggage Claim
Author: Cathe Swanson
Series: Great Lakes Novel series
Major Themes: Adoption, Families
Synopsis: Ben Taylor, adoptee, struggles to balance his professional life and spending time with his children—and just about the time he reconnects with his real family, his life spins out of control.
After reading Snow Angels last October, I knew I’d want to read any following books. If the debut book, a novella, was good, the novel surely would be even better! I was not disappointed in the least. Baggage Claim, the first official book in the Great Lakes Novel series, is a fascinating, extremely well-written book that all will enjoy. (As an aside, I feel like I say that a lot—“this book is great.” Fact is, it’s true. You’ll enjoy this, I’m sure.)
Ben, young widower with four small children, is struggling to find balance in his life. Although his wonderful adoptive parents do their best to care for him and his family, and help him keep a nanny, he still has a hard time knowing how to balance work, school, and family evenly. If he could, he’d quit his job—but he can’t, and in the meantime he tries to make the best of every opportunity he has with his children. However, he would like to know about his real family—and as he embarks on a search to find his birth parents he discovers truths he’s not sure he’s all that excited to learn about in the end. Coming to grips with his past—his parent’s past—is one thing, but when a situation at work comes up that could severely threaten his family, he must make some careful decisions in order to keep everyone safe. Will his life ever settle down?
Adoption. Fraud. Family. All of these and much more come together in Baggage Claim in a beautiful harmony of many different colors, characters, and circumstances. Although this book is mostly based in Chicago, where Ben’s family lives and where he works, it also encompasses parts of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan—thus bringing together an amazing variety of settings and personalities that wouldn’t otherwise have been there. I loved the UP part, especially, because I’ve visited the area at least once, maybe twice, as a girl. So reading about something close to what used to be home was very fun.
Besides setting, the characters were very well formed; a medley of differing interests, abilities, and goals. I enjoyed getting to know each one not only because of the effect they had on the story but because of their personalities as well—a 34-year-old pretending to be about 50, and a reclusive but also very sociable ex-army artist and wildlife photographer, are just two of the characters this book contains. The Christian faith expressed by the characters was very genuine—maybe not perfect, but true-to-life. In all, I loved Baggage Claim, and can’t wait for another book to come out by Cathe Swanson!
WARNING: Near the beginning, there is a fairly graphic account of a young girl’s “looseness”, her pregnancy, and how she died. There are several kisses mentioned in the book. At one stage, a character whacks another character over the head with the butt of a rifle.
Reading Independently—Ages 15 and Above, Adults
Links to buy Baggage Claim:
AbeBooks: View Choices on AbeBooks.com
Book Depository: Paperback
Keywords: Adoption, Families, Fraud