Don’t know about you, but do these two words, placed side-by-side, send shivers down your spine and dredge up grade-school memories that leave you with an urgent desire to run from the room? Okay, so maybe I’m a bit squeamish when it comes to hearing the words – book report – so instead I’ll use a more grown up word – book review. Ah, much better.
All kidding aside, my husband handed me a book not too long ago with a request – to read it and write a review. Okay. What’s the book? “Not sure, ” he says, “something girly.” Well, as the saying goes, one can’t always judge a book from it’s cover. In my opinion, this story is both girls and man-ly. Multi-platinum recording artist Sara Evans writes a beautiful and captivating fictional story, along with Rachel Hauck, in her debut novel, The Sweet By and By.
This is the life story of a character named Jade. Jade is a girl who is living her life forward in anticipation of her upcoming wedding. As she and her fiance pledge over and over to leave their past in the past, Jade’s past comes face to face with her present. How does she react when the pain of long ago, when the skeletons locked away are screaming to be let out? How would you react? I do believe that many readers will become caught up in reflecting on their own wounds and scars of the past. What do we do when pain, disappointment, hurt, rejection, and even abandonment have entered our lives? Do we lick our wounds and move on? Do we lash out in anger and harbor bitterness? Do we build a wall and camp out in the land of that-will-never-happen-to-me again? Do we cry out in desperation, longing for someone to rescue us? What if I told you the rescuer has been there all along?
This story is simply captivating. I somehow felt transported into the story as if the scenes were playing out with me as a part of them. In reading Jade’s thoughts and “watching” her bravely rise in the the midst of life-altering circumstances, the reader somehow rises along with her. Though one’s own life may involve different variables, the same feelings and thoughts ring true. How do you not only survive life, but endure hardship to a point where you realize nothing you’ve been given is deserved? Evans’ displays a magnificent ability to bring the reader into the story as Jade’s view of God emerges from one of borrowed faith to one of saving grace. Evans doesn’t end the story on a happily-ever-after-note, yet one filled with hope, redemption, and restoration as a new chapter in Jade’s life is being written. A chapter that includes the freedom of forgiveness.
I highly recommend this book, it’s definitely a fast read. Thanks to the wonderful people at Thomas Nelson, I would gladly lend this to you if you so feel inclined. Happy New Year! May you continue to have thoughts of renewal and a sense of urgency to use each day for Him.