Monthly Archives: October 2011

Book Review: Waiting for Morning, by Karen Kingsbury

Hannah Ryan waits at home for her family, her husband and two teenaged daughters, to return from a camping trip. But what she wants isn’t want she gets. Instead, a police car pulls into her driveway, delivering to her the worst news a mother and wife could imagine. The aftermath of what has happened is simple: Hannah is full of rage and grief and makes it her missing to get revenge on Brian Wesley, the drunk driver who took her family from her. Somewhere along the way, she began to blame God, too, and now it’s up to two people to bring her peace and forgiveness and closeness to God again.

I haven’t read a lot of Kingsbury, aside from one novel I reviewed almost a year ago, and I really liked it. So I was excited to get to review Waiting for Morning, and although it had its imperfections, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I think the characters are, for the most part, very real. What I thought Kingsbury did exceptionally well was make me feel strong emotion for the journeys that Hannah and Jenny had to face. I felt such sorrow for their loses, and there were times were I felt outright anger — especially at Hannah, when she was dealing with Jenny’s struggles later in the novel. In that specific instance (and I don’t want to be more descriptive in what I’m talking about, because I don’t want it to spoil Jenny’s path!) between Hannah and Jenny, I was so mad at Jenny, but I also pitied her because I could only imagine how caught up in her own narrow field of grief she was.

What I thought was done well was the juxtaposition between grief and forgiveness. Hannah, and even Jenny, really had to struggle with these two concepts, and there are arguments that favor either — or both. But as readers, and the surviving Ryans, come to see, they can coexist, and there is power in allowing God to help you feel and live them both.

Certain elements of the plot were predictable, and I did have to suspend my disbelief at someone of the ways Jenny was able to get away with what she did (computer searches would be more monitored and counselors and teachers at school would not have been so terribly oblivious to what was going on with Jenny), but I was willing to disregard those things for what was otherwise a fulfilling read.

Overall rating: 8.5/10

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for a review. I was not asked to provide a positive review, just an honest one.)


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Book Review: Treasuring Emma, Kathleen Fuller

I read Treasuring Emma, by Kathleen Fuller, in a single day, almost in a single sitting. I love it when I get books I just cannot put down, and in not being able to put them down I finish them quickly. The problem with Treasuring Emma is that it wasn’t one of those books. I was able to read it in a few hours because it was mindless and overly plain in its quality of writing.

A quick plot summary: Emma, an Amish girl who, at 24, is considered to be an old maid because she is still single, must care for her mother, who is dying. Eventually her mother passes away and Emma is left to care for herself. Her mother and grandmother managed to keep the family running after the death of Emma’s father by doing work of their own, and now it’s Emma time to confront her life and figure out how to survived on nothing. Things are complicated when Emma’s childhood beau, Adam, returns, after leaving town years ago to live among the English. But that’s not all – Emma’s sister Clara is having financial issues of her own after her husband Peter loses his job.

There were a few things I liked about this novel. One, it had some Amish people in it. That sounds like I’m joking, but I really do love novels about Amish people. And there are certain parts of Emma’s characterization that endeared her to me – the fact that she is both single and slightly… rotund. I’m in the same place in my life, and while it’s hard sometimes to deal with my singleness, it is what it is and it’s nice to read about characters who remind me of myself.

That said, I pretty much disliked the rest of this book. For starters, it was way, way too much like an Amish soap opera. Tragic deaths and lost loves aside, I got super annoyed when Peter’s friend Mark came back to town and started scheming to take advantage of Emma in her needy situation. I also was expecting an entirely different book based on the back cover, which mentions Emma’s desire to open a shelter for stray animals. In a lot of ways, this book had nothing to do with Emma’s dreams and everything to do with Clara’s, and as such is really titled incorrectly.

Another thing that left me scratching my head is the history between the sisters. There is just so much backstory we need to know, and are either given the backstory in tiny pieces that aren’t helpful at random times throughout the novel, or we’re never given them at all. There were countless times where I’d read something and flip back a few pages trying to figure out what just happened, when it was Fuller who just dropped the ball entirely.

While I do love a good Amish novel, this is one I can’t endorse. There are too many problems, both big and small, to make it a good read.

Overall rating: 3/10

I received this book for free from Book Sneeze in exchange for a review. I was not asked to provide a positive review, just an honest one.)

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