“Benedict woke up right before sunrise. The house smelled different. He wasn’t sure of what, but it was different from all the other places he’d stayed at. He knew for sure what it didn’t smell of though: cigarettes and dirty diapers.”
Benedict is a foster kid who’s been shuffled from one home to another during his ten short years. When he and his foster sister Melanie arrive at Sunshine Ranch, he doesn’t expect to stay here. He leaves his bags packed, ready to get kicked out, but there’s something different about this place. The parents, David and Martha, seem genuinely happy to have the kids here. And there’s a lot of kids—ten, to be exact.
As the summer passes, Benedict soon sees that everything isn’t perfect at Sunshine Ranch. David and Martha are tight on money, especially when a storm causes huge damage to the house and barns, and then a big horse-breaking contract David had counted on falls through. The bank is ready to foreclose on the entire property, leaving all the kids scared that they’ll be sent to new homes, despite Martha’s promise that she’ll keep them together no matter what.
Things go from bad to worse when one child ends up in the hospital and another child is taken back by her mother. As the Credence family clings to their faith, the children try to help save the ranch.
The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch reminded me of The Lion Cubs (another novel about foster children) and Cheaper by the Dozen (an autobiography of a large family that I enjoyed as a kid). I enjoyed getting to know each of the children on the ranch, and Gaouette has such a gift for characters that it wasn’t hard to keep Sebastien, Tommy, Eva, Micah, Benedict, Isabella and the younger children straight.
T. M. Gaouette is a freelance writer, blogger and novelist. She was born in Africa, raised in London, and now lives in the United States with her husband and four children. The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch is her first novel; she’s also the author of Freeing Tanner Rose. To find out more about her and her books, including recent reviews, drop by her blog.
I received this book for review courtesy of the author; all opinions expressed are my own. This post contains affiliate links.