Book Love

Book Review: Journey to the Forgotten Coast by Terri Webster

Domestic abuse is more common than many of us might realize and can be closer to home than we expect. And while no type of abuse is ever pleasant to think about, there is hope – and there are resources and support – for people who find themselves caught in that situation.

Book cover of Journey to the Forgotten Coast by Terri Webster
Journey to the Forgotten Coast by Terri Webster

That reality and hope are the threads running through Journey to the Forgotten Coast by Terri Webster.

I’ll admit up front that I’m a bit prejudiced about this book because I’ve known Terri for many years through writers group. And I do love when a friend publishes a book. But even aside from that, Journey to the Forgotten Coast has some important messages for us to read and remember.

Jorie has been married for several years, but things haven’t turned out as she had hoped. It took a while for her to become pregnant and then she suffered a miscarriage. She still hasn’t healed emotionally from that trauma when both her parents die unexpectedly, within weeks of each other. Her husband Hugh’s actions following those events finally push Jorie to the point of admitting to others that he has abused her for years and that she believes her life is in danger.

Traveling through this story with Jorie isn’t easy. You see how – and why – she tries to justify the situation to herself and others. You share her fear as she decides to get away and start a new life for herself. You feel her anger at Hugh – and God – and her grief and disappointment.

But in the end Jorie realizes something important that can be hard for us to remember, too. God is always there, working in the people and situations around us to bring us closer to Him and to see His plans fulfilled. Even on the hard, ugly, disappointing days. Even when we feel hurt and betrayed and confused.

Jorie has people who are praying for her when she doesn’t even know it. People who care about her more than she realizes and who are ready to help her as soon as she asks for it.

Life doesn’t magically become perfect for Jorie when she gets away from Hugh – just like it doesn’t for us when we get past our own bad situations. But she draws courage and strength from the people who love her and begins to deepen her relationship with God. She learns to believe that she deserves a better life and that the work it takes to reach that point is worth it.

Jorie’s journey ends with hope and new purpose despite the imperfections. I think that’s an important lesson we can all learn, no matter what we’re going through.

Unfortunately, though, the characters and situations in Journey to the Forgotten Coast are all too familiar to millions of people of all races, ages and economic statuses who find themselves caught in situations of domestic abuse. But there is hope for these people just as there was for Jorie.

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Here are a few websites with more information and resources if you or someone you know needs support:

 

Book Love

Book review: Rooms by James Rubart

Rooms by James Rubart book coverWhat if you walked into a home and found physical representations of your soul – even the parts you thought you’d hidden away or dealt with long ago? What if you also realized that the more you explored this house – which you’re drawn to in so many ways that you can’t stay away – the more pieces of the life you’re happy with fall away?

That’s what happens in Rooms, which is a bit of an oldie (published in 2010), but still worth the read. Here’s the back cover description:

On a rainy spring day in Seattle, young software tycoon Micah Taylor receives a cryptic, twenty-five-year-old letter from a great uncle he never knew. It claims a home awaits him on the Oregon coast that will turn his world inside out. Suspecting a prank, Micah arrives at Cannon Beach to discover a stunning brand new nine-thousand square foot house. And after meeting Sarah Sabin at a nearby ice cream shop, he has two reasons to visit the beach every weekend.

When bizarre things start happening in the rooms of the home, Micah suspects they have some connection to his enigmatic new friend, Rick, the town mechanic. But Rick will only say the house is spiritual. This unnerves Micah because his faith slipped away like the tide years ago, and he wants to keep it that way. But as he slowly discovers, the home isn’t just spiritual, it’s a physical manifestation of his soul, which God uses to heal Micah’s darkest wounds and lead him into an astonishing new destiny.

I’ll be the first to admit that I read fiction for fun and as an escape, not necessarily to dig deep and think about things in my personal life. But while Rooms was a good read, it also was good fodder for some personal reflection.

What kinds of dreams or hopes did I have years ago that have been forgotten in the busyness of “adulting”? What if I could sit down and literally have an out-loud conversation with the voice in my head? Whose voice would I be talking to? And then there’s the biggest question of all: If I could walk into a place that represents my heart, what would it be like?

Those are some heavy questions, but they show one of the many ways that Christian fiction is different from so many other titles on the shelves: They can teach you lessons about yourself and your faith if you’re open to the possibility.

So what did I learn from Rooms? It’s hard to pinpoint one specific thing, but I do have a lot rolling around in my mind. I’m glad I found this book buried in all the others on my Kindle; I’ll be looking at some other title from James Rubart now.

Your turn: What’s one of the best books you’ve read lately? Or, what’s a lesson you’ve learned from a novel?

Book Love

Book Review: The Discovery

Last week I posted a photo of some books from my to-read stack. Today I’m going to share my review of one of those books, The Discovery by Dan Walsh.

The DiscoveryI’ve read two of Walsh’s previous novels, The Unfinished Gift and The Homecoming. They were both set in the World War II era, so The Discovery is a bit different from those because it’s set in modern times. But – Walsh still shares his love of WWII tales with us because The Discovery actually is a story within a story.

Here’s part of the back cover blurb:

When aspiring writer Michael Warner inherits his grandfather’s venerable Charleston estate, he settles in to write his first novel. But within the confines of the stately home, he discovers an unpublished manuscript that his grandfather, a literary giant whose novels sold in the millions, had kept hidden from everyone – but which he clearly intended Michael to find. As he delves deep into the exciting tale about spies and sabotage, Michael discovers something that has the power to change not only his future but his past as well.

So … an aspiring novelist, a story set in Charleston, and some spies and sabotage. The combination hooked me from the get-go.

DSC00893 (1)
The top of the St. Augustine, Fla., lighthouse. I learned a lot about World War II spies when we visited a few years ago. Some of those same things were in The Discovery.

You’re about 60 pages into the book before Michael comes across his grandfather’s hidden manuscript. From there, The Discovery alternates between Michael’s present-day life and the story within the old manuscript – which you read along with Michael in its entirety. I felt like the “hidden” story dragged a bit in a few places, but it wasn’t so bad that I wanted to stop reading. I think it was partly because I anticipated some things and was ready for them to happen. But at least I didn’t jump to the ending to make sure things worked out like I wanted.

Basic fiction tools like flashbacks and back story can be tricky to work into a story, and what Walsh attempted here was much bigger than that. But he managed to pull it off and reward his readers with not one enjoyable story, but two. If you’re looking for a novel about young love during World War II that stays more “light” than “grim,” The Discovery could be worth checking out.

Your turn: What good World War II novels have you read? Do you have a favorite author who writes about that time frame?

And … I had the chance to interview Dan Walsh on the Novel Pastimes blog when his debut novel, The Unfinished Gift, was released. You can read Day 1 of the interview here and Day 2 here.

Book Love

What’s On Your Reading Pile?

I’ve been a reader all my life, and always have a stack of books waiting to be my next literary get-away — plus plenty on my haven’t-bought-yet list. I’ll admit it makes me a little crazy and a little sad when I hear people say they don’t like to read. Don’t they know how much they’re missing?!

That’s why I love this quote from J.K. Rowling that I saw online this weekend:

JK Rowling quote
Source: BuzzFeed UK; http://bit.ly/1WZBESB

My sentiments exactly! Whether it’s suspense, romance, sci-fi, dystopian, Western, mystery, historical, or something completely different from the non-fiction part of the world — everyone can find something they enjoy reading if they take time to dig a bit. I’ve said it to plenty of my kids’ friends in the past few years.

TBR pile
What are you reading next?

Me, I’m always looking for another “right” book. Here’s what’s left of my to-read pile at the moment. Since there are only six (two of which I’m partway through), I obviously need to get moving on my haven’t-bought-yet list!

Your turn: I’d love to know what you’re reading or what you want to buy next. Share in the comments and we’ll all have some good books to explore.