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:

 

Fun Friday

First Line Friday: Someone Like You

Welcome to First Line Friday, where book lovers across blogland share the opening line from a nearby book (since we all have books everywhere we turn). I’m kicking off my participation with the latest from one of my favorite authors of contemporary women’s fiction:

Someone Like You by Karen Kingsbury

Someone Like You by Karen Kingsbury

The first line is:

Like a tumor in her chest, for twenty-two years Brooke Baxter West had carried the lie.

Wow, what a line to pull readers in with! And in true Karen Kingsbury fashion, the story had me hooked from the beginning and I wanted to read it straight through (which would have been possible if I had started reading on a Saturday since it’s shorter than some of her books).

Your turn: Share the first line from one of your books in the comments. Then hop over to Hoarding Books (the blog I’m joining in this fun) to see what they’re sharing.

Happy reading!

Book Love

Book Review: The Fine Art of Insincerity

Ginger, Penny, and Rosemary are as different as three sisters could possibly be. They’re all married (with 9 marriages between them) and they all loved their Grandmother Lillian dearly, but that’s about as far as it goes.

The story starts about a year after Grandmother dies, when Ginger gets a call saying Grandmother’s beach cottage has sold and they have two weeks to clean out all personal possessions. Ginger – always the super organized one – jumps right into planning a cleaning spree with Penny and Rose over Labor Day weekend.

What they don’t know is that a lot more than Grandma’s house is about to get cleaned.

Long-buried secrets and hard looks at themselves (and at each other) get unpacked during three days of trashing junk, claiming favorite possessions, and scrubbing the cottage spotless. Each sister comes to the beach with one agenda in mind, but leaves with a completely new one. How quickly things can change – and how much we can learn we need each other – when we let ourselves peek beneath the surface.

*******

Angela Hunt is one of my favorite authors, but she hasn’t had a new book out in a while. I was so excited when I heard about The Fine Art of Insincerity and could hardly wait to read it. She’s a master at writing stories that pull me right into the pages and characters I care about from the start. Insincerity isn’t what I would call a light, entertaining read, but it’s also not heavy and depressing. The best way I can think to describe it is
full-fledged realistic – funny on one page, tearful on the next, making me think about my own life and relationships on the next.

If you’ve never read any of Angela’s books, I highly recommend them. She’s written contemporary women’s fiction, Biblical fiction, romance, and even some slight suspense. In other words, she’s probably written something you would enjoy, no matter what your taste in reading might be. Plus, if you’re a writer, she’s an incredible teacher. I had the chance to take one of her classes at a conference two years ago and she was amazing. If you get the chance to learn from her, don’t pass it up!

Check out her website and blog to learn more about Angela and her books. And if you’ve read The Fine Art of Insincerity or any of Angela’s other books, let us know what you think.

 

Book Love

Some Favorite Reads of 2010

Although I always try to read a lot of books, I don’t usually think to stop and decide which were my favorites. Actually, if you asked me for a list right now I probably couldn’t even tell you all of the books I read in 2010! I’d like to do better with that in 2011 so I can have a “real” favorites list by the end of the year.

In the meantime, though, here are a few that I really enjoyed in 2010.

The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow, by Joyce Magnin. I met Joyce at the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference in August; she taught the “Not yet published novelist” clinic I was able to participate in. I love reading a book when I’ve met the author because everything comes even more alive than usual. Joyce is open, honest, and has a quirky sense of humor – just like her book. Agnes and the other characters had some of the funniest lines and characteristics I’ve read lately. Small rural town – people who love each other but don’t spare the punches – yummy pies and other home cooking – rumors that fly quicker than a transatlantic jet. I heard Joyce’s voice throughout the story and thought it all came together in a very entertaining read. The follow-up book, Charlotte Figg Takes Over Paradise, was part of my Christmas goodies so I’m laughing over it now!

Tour de Force, by Elizabeth White. This story intrigued me from the get-go because it’s about professional ballet dancers. And, even though my dance class days are far behind me, I’ve always been a softie for things related to ballet. I loved how the story tackled the issue of being a Christian in a corner of the world where lots of other lifestyles are “the norm.” I loved how the story handled things realistically but also with respect. I fell in love with Gillian and Jacob and could tell that Elizabeth had spent hours of real-world research time around dancers to help keep things realistic. Tour de Force took me along for a wonderful adventure that I didn’t want to put down.

So Over It, by Stephanie Morrill. This was the final installment in the “Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt” series for teen girls and didn’t disappoint. Skylar’s over all the games and politics of high school so jumps at the chance to spend time with her grandparents in Hawaii after graduation. Maybe she’ll even get a job and stay there instead of heading back home. But Skylar learns some important lessons in Hawaii – like running away to hide doesn’t fix the issues, and sometimes even the most wonderful seeming places aren’t so great. The battles she has with herself and her family are so common to teenage girls, and I loved how Stephanie showed her working through things and making her own decisions. I’ve passed the series along to a couple of girls in my Wednesday night group at church – they have some great lessons without being preachy. I hope she has some new books coming soon!

 

I have several others to mention, but this blog post is getting too long! I’ll save the other 3 faves for next week. Happy new year!