Today I’m reviewing Songs for a Sunday, a Southern novel by Heather Norman Smith. We met through Blue Ridge Reader Connections, which is a great place to find fiction or nonfiction from Christian authors. You might want to hop over there and find your next book to read. 🙂
Back cover copy:
Two sets of sisters, generations apart — can one big sister’s sacrifice teach the other about love and forgiveness?
1963: Twenty-year-old Annie dreams of managing the dance studio where she has trained since childhood and of marrying her high-society boyfriend. But when her younger sister with special needs gets pregnant, Annie is forced to set her dreams aside for the sake of family.
Present day: Missy Robbins has always lived in her younger sister’s shadow. When given the opportunity, Missy steps out of her comfort zone as stay-at-home mom of four to prove she’s as good a singer as Erica. Missy’s new pursuit puts her on a path to self-discovery and reclaiming her discarded faith. Until she discovers her grandmother has a sixty-year-old secret.
Will Missy conceal Grandma Annie’s deception, or will she be forced to reveal the hidden truth?
Sometimes emotions or attitudes we think are long buried and dealt with find their way back to the surface and teach us new lessons. That’s the situation Missy finds herself in when she’s pulled from her hectic but familiar life as a stay-at-home wife and mom. She’s spent years being the reliable caretaker and helper for extended family while her younger sister Erica built a singing career. And as much as Missy loves her family, she can’t shake her jealousy of Erica being able to chase her dreams.
Jealousy seeps into our minds and lives in ways we might not realize. However it manifests, it’s never a pretty thing. In Missy’s case, jealousy plays into personal insecurities and affects her relationships with multiple people — just as it can do with us. On top of that, Missy’s faith never recovered from long-ago hurts inflicted by people she held dear. Life has a way of piling things on top of each other, and that’s part of why Missy’s story is so relatable. But God has a way of making sure we get to the places He wants us to be, and watching that path unfold for Missy gave me things to think about for myself. The lessons she learns about herself, her family, and her faith are ones we can all take to heart (or at least I know I should).
Faith is an integral part of Songs for a Sunday, from conversational references to God and religion, to scenes at church and in church choir, to the personal struggles several characters face with each other and within themselves. Characters fall and fail and struggle, just as we do in real life. They also learn about themselves and their relationships with God deepen in relatable ways.
Weaving faith into a story without seeming contrived or cheesy can be a fine line for an author to balance. Smith does an excellent job incorporating faith in realistic ways, which I appreciate as both a reader and writer.Two sets of sisters, generations apart. Can one’s sacrifice teach the other about love and forgiveness? #Bookreview of Songs for a Sunday by @HNSBlog. #Christianfiction Click To Tweet
Who should read Songs for a Sunday:
Fans of Southern or small-town fiction will feel right at home reading Songs for a Sunday. For those who enjoy split time novels, the shifts between Missy’s present day life and her grandmother’s life 60 years earlier are well done and easy to follow.
Songs for a Sunday is a great choice for anyone who wants a clean read that’s light enough to entertain but has enough heft to leave you with some points worth pondering. It’s written for an adult audience (and that’s who will relate to it the most), but also is appropriate for teen or YA readers.
I also read and reviewed an earlier book by Smith, The New Wine Transportation Company. It was a very different storyline from Songs for a Sunday, but fun to read. You might also want to check it out.
Your turn: What’s a lesson you’ve learned from a book recently? Leave a comment below to help encourage someone else.