This will be a different book review in that three novels are being reviewed in one book, written by Karen Kingsbury. The novels, Where Yesterday Lives, When Joy Came to Stay and On Every Side are in the collection and are definite page turners. They are all unique stories.
To begin, Where Yesterday Lives, focuses on what happened to the way things used to be? The family patriarch has passed away, leaving the Barret children and their mother in agony not only over how to plan the funeral but how to cope with each other. The main conflict is between Ellen, her husband, Mike, her former boyfriend, Jake and her sister Jane. Mike doesn’t want to go the funeral so she goes alone. Jake is the rescuer and a strong temptation for Ellen as she pours her out her feelings to him over her loss and family conflicts. Jane is jealous of Ellen and constantly attacks her from the get go. The siblings keep remembering how close they were when they were little but can’t seem to pull together at a time when they really need each other the most.
In the end, everyone faith is tested and all the siblings, especially Ellen, Jane, and their brother Aaron, who has major anger issues, break down their stubborn walls and realize family is more important and their faith God is what will carry them through the rest of their lives. In a way, the novel is about losing a relationship with our heavenly father and just when things seem the most hopeless, having him tap us on the shoulder and say, “I have been here the whole time, tell me all about it.”
The second novel in the series, When Joy Came to Stay, is about not coming to terms with your past mistakes. The main character, Maggie Stoval, has a child from a previous relationship, but gave her up when she was born. The memory has a profound effect on her both mentally and spiritually. Her relationship with her husband, Ben, is temporarily broken as she tries to figure out why she is feeling the way she is. This memory is buried deep inside her.
When Maggie checks into a psychiatric hospital it’s there that she realizes she has to face up to the past in order live in the present. The other patients there, especially Sara, actually help her with this realization through group sessions. God keeps speaking to her and she tries to fight what He says.
We learn about depression and how sometimes medicine has to help aid making one feel better, but even more importantly, the faithfulness of family and power of prayer and miracles that contribute to the healing and renewing of one’s own sense of worth. Maggie had been “seeing” visions of a little girl throughout her ordeal but the miracle came when her husband actually found the child, Amanda Joy and they became a family. Aren’t you glad God is stubborn?
On Every Side, the third novel, we discover what it’s like to mad at God and to want to do everything in our power to get back at Him for letting us down. The main characters, Faith Evans, a news reporter, Jordan Riley, an attorney are at opposite ends of a lawsuit regarding a Jesus statue that has been a part of the town of Bethany, Pa for many years. Faith has nothing but love for it and wants it to stay. Jordan, on the other hand, is trying every legal trick and loophole to rid the town of it because he believes God took the people he loved, away from him. His mother died when he was a teenager, and his sister was placed in a separate foster home.
In some ways, Faith has her own struggle too. She tries to take the safe way out, not relying on the Big Man upstairs for help. She doesn’t want to let Him down or cause too much trouble so she remains passive throughout the ordeal until she boldly decides to purchase the statue herself. Taking a stand for what she believes is right.
Jordan keeps going back and forth in his mind about every decision he is making and eventually realizes that he needs to go back to God and decides to drop the ridiculous lawsuit against Bethany, Pa. It’s true, you don’t need to angry with God, it doesn’t help and won’t make you feel any better. All three books are a test of one’s faith, and the fact that we need to listen to God, knowing he has our back. Don’t you agree?
I received this free copy from Waterbrook Press in exchange for reviewing it.
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