Time came to choose a new book to review for WaterBrook Multnomah. I glanced through the offerings and decided it was time I read something from one of their most prolific and popular authors, Karen Kingsbury.
I selected A Kingsbury Collection offering the reader three novels in one volume. The novels are Where Yesterday Lives, When Joy Came to Stay, and On Every Side. I will give a short summary and brief review of each.
Where Yesterday Lives
Summary: Ellen Barrett is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist with an uncertain marriage, a forgotten faith, and haunting memories of her picturesque hometown and the love she left behind. The eldest of five siblings, she longs for the time, long ago, when they were a happy family. Now Ellen's beloved father is dead, and she returns home to make peace -- with the people who still live there, with the losses and changes that time has wrought, and with the future God has set before her.
My Thoughts: On so many levels I can relate to Ellen Barrett. As a writer, yes, but not a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, I understand her perfectionist personality, her commitment to her job, and the pride she takes in her work. As the middle child of three siblings, who are as disconnected as three could be, I yearned along with Ellen as she hoped to bring peace to her family once again. And as a daughter, I felt her pain as she grieved for her father who was now gone just as I grieved when I lost my best friend and father.
Kingsbury wastes no time in engaging the reader. From the beginning, you know that you are about to take a journey, a journey about love, hope and faith. A journey about loss, anger, and untold stories. Characters about whom you have to ask no questions as Kingsbury grows them before your eyes. Tension ebbs and flows, and the reader keeps expectantly waiting for something, anything to change or happen.
I enjoyed Where Yesterday Lives very much and highly recommend it.
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When Joy Came to Stay
Summary: Maggie Stovall is one of the golden people. She has it all together...at least on the surface. Ben Stovall is a godly husband and successful attorney. He has no idea of the darkness about to overtake his life. Amanda Joy is a child of society-abused, broken, thrown away. But her trust in God is still alive. When Joy Came to Stay is the heart-wrenching story of one woman's descent into the shadows of depression, her husband's search for understanding, and a precious child's unwavering faith.
Maggie and Ben seem to have it all. But do they? They have success, financial means, each loves the Lord. So what could go wrong?
Amanda Joy is a child who has suffered much at the hands of the foster care system, except for the love of her social worker. Amanda Joy only wants one thing -- to have a mommy and daddy who will keep her forever.
My Thoughts: The day Maggie falls into the darkest depths of depression is not only one of the hardest days of her life. It also tears Ben's world and potentially his career apart. However, their personal faith commitments are strong and it is clear this will be an important part of healing for Maggie.
At certain points in the book, I struggled to read through the more dark passages. However, when I finished the book, I saw the relevance of their inclusion.
To share more would be to reveal far too much and destroy your enjoyment of reading this book.
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On Every Side
Summary: Faith Evans is an up-and-coming newscaster, a woman of honor and integrity who must take a stand against the one man she never imagined would be her enemy. A beloved, hundred-year-old statue of Jesus stands in a small-town park-but some say it's a clear violation of separation of church and state that must come down. Jordan Riley is a powerful attorney fighting for human rights and against God, but still reckoning with bitter boyhood losses. Amid political intrigue, social injustice, and personal conflicts, will love be enough when the battle rages on every side?
My Thoughts: Of the three novels, this may have been my favorite, perhaps due to my background of 30 plus years spent in a legal career. However, it also focuses on an issue which we are finding more prevalent in our society -- the effort of certain groups to remove plaques, statues and other references to the Christian faith from communities because they believe such evidences are in clear violation of separation of church and state.
Reading On Every Side went quickly because of fast-paced dialogue and action between the characters. Kingsbury is a master at developing her characters and writing dialogue. In this novel as in When Joy Came to Stay, there is a foster child also looking for a permanent home. Although she doesn't play a major role in the plot and storyline, she does bring a certain lightheartedness to some of the scenes.
On Every Side is a story of separation in relationships, both familial and friendships. It is a story of loss of faith and restoration. It is the story of reunions and new opportunities and starting over.
Once again, I enjoyed this novel very much and give it a high recommendation.
I received a copy of this collection from Waterbrook Multnomah in exchange for a fair and honest review.
It was a blessing to receive this book with all 3 books in one. (Where Yesterday Lives, When Joy Came to Stay, and On Every Side) It is a very thick book, but that is to be expected. This was a very real book.; a book where it shows how father's need to step up with their daughters and be the role model God wants them to be. I really enjoy the basis of the books of each person realizing family is important and should stick together even in rough times.
The first book is about Ellen returning home and making some bad decisions that involve an exboyfriend, when she should be focusing attention on her family. I think it is easy to get caught up in thoughts, but we should strive to be the person God wants us to be. Family is important.
The second book about Maggie who has to face consequences of choices she made in life and dealing with depression. It is a story about forgiving yourself and others.
The third book about Faith and Jordan and how they find a balance of fighting against each other with the past they have. You see Jordan coming around to God's view of life. I received The Kingsbury Collection from Waterbrook Multnomah for review.
This is a book that contains the three novels listed below. I have seen other reviewers criticize the size of this book. Yes it is large, but HELLO it is 3 books in 1. Did you think it would be small? *rolls eyes* I have never heard of Karen Kingsbury before getting this book. I just recently started to read Christian Fiction and I am so glad I picked this one up! Karen Kingsbury.......you are one of my new favorite authors and I am proud to have your book on my shelf!
Where Yesterday Lives
I LOVED this book and I will tell you why. The very FIRST page is captivating. You immediately want to know who this guy is and what is going on. That continues ALL the way through. I was absorbed in the characters. I wanted to know WHY they were the way they were. I wanted to know if they would be able to work it out or not. Not once did I get bored or want to put it down!
The way the author wrote this story was amazing to me. Just as I was getting to know a character and really want to know the details, the author switched it and put you in a different character's head. I found this to be both intriguing and frustrating (in a good way). I wanted to find out what the rest of the story was with the character so the author FULLY had my attention and I did NOT want to put this book down!
Let this be a warning to you all, you WILL cry when you read this. The last few chapters had me crying so hard I could hardly see the book. The emotions were radiating off the pages and I felt like I was there in real life watching all of this unfold. That just amazes me that a book could be so well written like that! Props to you Karen Kingbury! This is one of the best books I have ever read and I am proud to add it to my personal library!!!
When Joy Came To Stay
Once again, I am floored by Karen Kingsbury's writing style! This story had you guessing to fill in the missing pieces as she went from character to character. You get to a good point with one character and you are dying to know the rest of the story but it quickly jumps to a different character leaving you desperate for information. I could not put this book down until I finished it.
I will give you this information. There IS a child abuse scene that is VERY hard to read so if you have a hard time with that, beware. I was crying so hard in that scene I had to walk away for a bit to calm down.
Once again, she writes so well that I feel like I am in the room with these people. The emotions coming off the pages is just amazing. Very easy to get caught up in this book!
On Every Side
This is another great book by Karen, while it was not my favorite, it was still amazing! Written well, full of emotions, and a great story line based on a true story.
You start off hating Jordan and over the course of the book you find yourself loving him! Faith is an amazing character that caught my attention from the start. She is one of those characters that you quickly fall in love with.
I was not sure what I would find in the Kingsbury Collection. I was excited to see a 700+ page volume with three novels in it. (There is little this reader loves better than having another book in my hands when I finish the first good one!)
In the Kingsbury Collection I found stories of Grace and Forgiveness - and also some very dangerous actions on the part of the characters. These were stories of Redemption, and her character's pasts were true to life, with brokenness and sin. However, the ones who professed to be Christians did not always make Godly choices when they needed to. A theme I saw in these books were Fathers who did not guide and guard their daughters. Every book contained a Father who was more or less negligent in his God given duties toward his daughter, his duty to shepherd her and protect her heart, mind, soul and safety. The results were tragic, as they always are.
This fatherly negligence is too common in our world, even in the professing Church, and so these characters have broken hearts like has happened far too often. They model the need to walk with Christ despite having a past that was not ideal. The sin was mostly presented as horrible and sad... reminding us of the sin sick world we live in.
Book 1. Where Yesterday Lives. As I read about Ellen's family, who all came home to plan their father's funeral, I really hoped this family would find healing in God. All sorts of pain and sadness were locked up in these men and women.
The dangerous choice in Where Yesterday Lives is Ellen's choice. Ellen returns to her hometown and decides to call up an old boyfriend.
Ellen has a marriage that needs healing like the rest of her life.
The answer is never to re-connect with an old boyfriend, who harmed you a decade ago and is still driving around town in his truck dating women, who still has no life and no plans and no purpose.
Going out with her old (and unbelieving) boyfriend was never a Godly idea, and Ellen knew it because she lied to her sister about who she was meeting. The man who almost ruined Ellen's life is not the one to seek out. Her husband back home, who loved her faithfully and steadily had no clue what she was doing. He needed to step up the spiritual leader and lead her back to her commitment to God, and he needed to come with her to help her deal with her family. When he didn't, she turned to the old boyfriend. Of course the old boyfriend had time to "romance" her and pay attention to her....he had no real life. This sort of thing must never be thought of positively. It was flirting with sin, and it was not the answer to Ellen's questions. Ellen realizes this at the end...that the wise woman builds her house and the foolish woman tears hers down with her own hands.
Ellen's family needs to draw together, but the conclusions they come to as they try are not entirely true. Jane needed to forgive her father and move past her bitterness and rage toward him for not protecting her, but deciding that it "wasn't his fault" is not a true conclusion. She had a part in her actions, surely, but Scripture is clear that the blame for hurt daughters in laid literally at their father's door. Forgiving him does not mean dismissing his abuse of his role as father. He failed in his duty to protect his girls, the most precious treasures God gave him.
There was a doctrinal question too, when Ellen chided herself for "ever questioning" her parents Catholicism. There are Christians within the Catholic Church, people who have repented and been saved by trusting Christ alone, but that does not change the fact that the doctrines of Catholicism contradict Christian doctrines. This was glossed over by Ellen's father when she tried once to question his Catholicism, and then he essentially tells her not to try to make him a Protestant.
Book 2. When Joy Came to Stay.
This story is a story full of Grace, and has a lesson to teach in compassion and forgiveness. This story taught an even stronger lesson in protecting your daughter, and the absolute folly of dating. When Ben Stovall breaks Maggie's heart by telling her he "needs time" after monopolizing her life and leading her to think he was ready to marry, she is taken advantage of by a loser drug dealer. When Ben Stovall comes back into her life, it is just as she is deciding whether or not she can raise a baby alone. Her professing Christian parents allowed this to happen, thinking that raised voices were all the guidance and discipleship she needed. She tells Ben she is going away for a semester, and secretly plans to turn her baby girl over to a waiting family. Ben marries her, never knowing what happened during the year he left her to follow his heart.
When Maggie descends into deep depression eight years into her marriage with Ben, she fears she is going crazy. She begins to believe that if Ben hadn't demanded "perfection," she wouldn't have had to give Amanda Joy away. Hating Ben and herself, she checks into Orchards, a Christian hospital. Ben finds her note and is desperate to understand what happened. As he puts together the pieces of his wife's life, he finds their daughter in the foster care system and decides to bring her home and become a family.
The story of Maggie's return from depression was convincing, because depression is a hidden pain that many in the church suffer from and don't know where to turn. Orchards had doctors and nurses committed to wisely using Biblical counsel and limited medication, helping her restore her relationship with God and Ben. In Orchards, Maggie comes out into the light of truth again after years of darkness and lies.
When mercy and grace come into Maggie and Ben's lives, they finally make room for joy, Amanda Joy, to come and stay. This book has a satisfying ending.
Book 3. On Every Side.
This book looks at an important battle in our day, the battle by atheists and humanists to remove all acknowledgement of God's Providential Hand from public places. As Geoffrey Botkin said, when speaking of obscuring and revising history,
"Rebellious men hate the past because it is full of providential meaning, and they hate the future because it is unpredictable and uncontrollable by man. Rebellious men also hate time because it is limited and reminds them of their appointment with death, and they hate eternity because they cannot control it or access it on their terms. But since time is inescapable and since what has happened shapes what is and what will be, rebellious men seek to make God and Christ remote from the present and future by abstracting them from the past."
In On Every Side, HOUR Humanity Organized and United in Responsibility, is committed to someday creating an America where all the Jesus freaks meet in barns at night and prayer will be little more than a state of mind.
That is what they said, and it is chillingly familiar to what is being said today, right down to the increasingly more common taunt that Christianity is child abuse.
Being schooled in how to counter illogical rhetoric is critical today.
In One Every Side, Jordan Riley is the sharp young lawyer who intends to remove the statue of Jesus that has stood for one hundred years in Bethany's city park. What the watching world does not know is that Jordan Riley prayed in front of that statue every night the year his mother died when he was thirteen. Now his crusade is to remove any fingerprints left by those who love God. His greatest triumph was convincing New York State to fire a teacher who had prayed with one of his students after she lost friends in a car accident. Still living on the rush of that victory, Jordan thinks removing this statue will be easy.
Until he realizes that the girl he once vowed to marry is still in this town, and her family is active in opposing the humanist agenda. Working with her late father's partner, Faith Evans is determined to keep this staue. And so is the town of Bethany.
I found On Every Side's premise delightful, because isn't it awesome when a prominent humanist and atheist converts and his whole life changed? God's Grace is amazing. I also love that the organization who stands against HOUR is modeled after the ACLJ.
I received The Kingsbury Collection from Waterbrook Multnomah for review.