A while back I received the “Kingsbury Collection” to review through “Blogging for Books” and Waterbrook Multnomah, a Christian publisher. This 700+ page collection has three complete books in it: Where Yesterday Lives, When Joy Came to Stay, and On Every Side.
In Where Yesterday Lives, young professional Ellen Barrett returns home after her father’s sudden death from a heart attack. Ellen’s family (five siblings) has grown apart over the years. Outwardly they are polite and civil, but emotionally they are torn asunder by old rivals and jealousies, along with some painful memories and bitterness. Ellen’s marriage is currently on rocky soil and she returns to her hometown alone to face her family and a barrage of memories, including memories of her younger years with boyfriend Jake Sadler. It isn’t long before a very sad and lonely Ellen is reconnecting with the man she used to love, while trying to deal with her dysfunctional family and distant husband.
I have to say, this is the first of Kingsbury’s works that I’ve read. I was drawn right into this story for various reasons, and was struck by how well Kingsbury captures the agony and inner turmoil that occurs when a parent dies suddenly. The build-up to Ellen contacting her old boyfriend had me wanting to yell: “Danger, Will Robinson!!” at her. At the essence of this story, however, is a message of forgiveness and hope and a reminder of the power of prayer and of faith. I really enjoyed it!
In When Joy Came to Stay reporter Maggie Stovall is on the verge of a breakdown. She has spent years trying to forget and move on from some difficult and painful decisions that she made when younger. However, Maggie’s choice to not be truthful to her husband, or even to herself, about her past leads her to a collapse and time recuperating in a psychiatric hospital. Meanwhile, her husband is left to figure out what happened and why and begins to realize that his “perfect” wife may not be the same woman he thinks he knows. Again, a strong message here of forgiveness and self-forgiveness (which is often the toughest to achieve!), with a focus on the importance and power of faith. Just a note – this story had the feel of a Mary Higgins Clark suspense novel at times!
The final story, On Every Side, Jordan Riley is an attorney working to take down a statue of Jesus in a public park (as a violation of the separation of church and state), while new reporter and child advocate Faith Evans (aptly named!) is working to somehow keep the statue up. Jordan has lost his faith due to hardships he suffered as a child, and the statue just happens to be located in his boyhood hometown. Who will win the battle? Kingsbury based this story, in part, on a similar true legal case involving a religious statue in a park.
As I said earlier, this was my first experience reading Ms. Kingsbury’s books and I did enjoy them. Her work has strong Christian themes and her characters (some of them at least) are often struggling to reconnect with their faith. I like how “real” they seem, though, and the problems faced are often the ones we encounter in day-to-day life.
thanks, Blogging for Books, for my review copy!