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.
In A Kingsbury Collection: Three Novels in One, author Karen Kingsbury captures the reader with three poignant stories of love, forgiveness, and new beginnings.
Each story is independent of each other and can certainly be read alone. However, including them in a three-in-one book made the stories all the more interesting and engaging.
From inception, the reader is captivated by each plot. The characters are credible and draw one into the story line. There is mystery and suspense which helps explain the character's actions and more often than not, their reaction to their present circumstances. The minor characters are intrinsically interwoven where they do not become a disturbance to the plot but rather a key component for the evolvement of the protagonist.
Each story highlights the redeeming power of God in the midst of life altering events. Forgiveness and repentance are key themes throughout all three stories. In Where Yesterday Lives, Ellen Barrett must come to grips with leaving behind the memories of a life she once had to be able to fully embrace the life the Lord is offering her. Maggie Stovall's story in When Joy Came to Stay painfully reminds us that the past does not always remain in the past. Her courageous story of coming to terms with the mistakes she made as a young lady only go to show it is never too late. On Every Side, Jordan Riley finally understands that waring bitter wars will never heal his broken heart but allowing God to tear down the walls around his heart will.
This book is surely not to disappoint those who enjoy relatable and engaging story plots.
I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.
Karen Kingsbury is certainly known as one of the Queens of Christian fiction, and this volume is packed full of three novels sure to please her faithful readers. The subject matter in these three novels is deep: death, depression, separation of church and state. Of course, faith and spirituality drive the actions and thoughts of the believable main characters. Characters who have flaws and doubts and struggles just like us. I struggle with depression myself so this book certainly struck a chord with my heart. It is not easy for those who must suffer with it or for those who love the depressed individual. Karen Kingsbury addresses this and the other issues beautifully with love and concern. I am not sure how much I love the "volume" presentation though, as it is a heavier book to hold while reading, and it definitely looks daunting when first glancing at it and hoping to read a quick novel to forget the cares of the day. It does not disappoint though, but I think I would prefer it in three separate novels in print.
"A Kingburys Collection" Three Novels in One: Where Yesterday Lives, When Joy Came to Stay and On Every Side. Author Karen Kingsbury. The book is comprised of almost 800 pages of Christian fiction written by a New York Times Best-Selling Author.
Each story contains a strong lead female character. Each is either a journalist or a TV news anchor. Initially I found this rather curious until I learned the author has a history in each.
With "Where Yesterday Lives" we travel with the main character as she struggles with less than ideal circumstances in her marriage and her family of origin. Her Father dies at the beginning of the story so Ellen travels back to her home town to be with her family to make arrangements for his funeral. The story explores the various struggles and history of each of her siblings, as well as those of Ellen, and culminates with each having a better understanding of each other as they make peace at their fathers funeral.
As a reader I found I was promptly drawn into the story. While I found the characters to be complex, as people are, I did find I began to question the authenticity of some aspects of her characters, which, as a reader, I found a little bothersome--this being particularly true with the character Jake, Ellen's boyfriend of six years prior her marriage, to another man.
The author started to lose me about three fourths the way into the story, as I found it felt to me like it was time to wrap it up. I basically skimmed the last few chapters to get to the conclusion of the story.
"When Joy Comes" is a story of both an adult woman, Maggie, and a child, Amanda Joy. Maggie is married to her golden boy husband, a devout Christian man, and she is employed as a journalist. She and her husband serve as foster parents. Early in the story you realize Maggie has a secret that haunts her. Amanda Joy is a lovely little girl who finds herself in the foster care system, and suffers some horrible experiences in the process. Fairly quickly things begin to unravel in Maggie's life and the reader begins to get the inside story to her dark secret. I found I was really drawn into this story. As I began piecing the story together I was anxious to see it work towards a happy ending. As with the previous book, again I found about three fourths the way into the story the writer was again beginning to lose me. I'd already figured the plot out and simply wanted to get to the point where it was all resolved. The writing, at this point, felt like needless filler, so I skimmed it to get to the culmination of story. Were this story based on true events, I'd not expect such a happy ending due to the circumstances that brought about the problem, but for a fiction novel the reader is provided with a very joyful ending.
"On Every Side", in my opinion, is the best of the bunch, of the three stories. I actually liked the main characters, Faith Evans, and Jordan Riley. The essence of this story is a legal battle that involves a statue of Jesus which stands in the center of a town park. Faith is a newscaster who is also a passionate Christian. Jordan, a powerful attorney, has an ax to grind and goes after the town with a lawsuit mandating the statue be removed. The conflict comes as we learn Faith and Jordan were very close friends as children until Jordan's mother dies, leaving him and his sister orphans, separated and lost while being placed into the foster care system. As the legal battle unfolds, things become complicated as Jordan and Faith find each other again, yet find themselves on opposite sides of the legal battle. In the process the reader is able to travel the journey Jordan has taken up to this point, allowing for the opportunity to understand his confusion and pain. At the same time the reader is also able to journey with Faith and feel her passion, and understand her struggles to find balance between her career goals and her values and beliefs. As the reader I was very drawn into the story, feeling the emotions of the characters, championing for them, and experiencing the story as if I were there. This story engaged me from beginning to end and I really enjoyed what I felt to be a truly happy ending.
"I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review."
This is a great collection of books. I haven't previously read a lot of Karen Kingsbury's novels, but the few I have read have been a wonderful true-to-life portrayal of God's faithfulness in the lives of His people. I love that virtually all of her novels end with someone singing "Great is Thy Faithfulness." Over the summer, I did read one of Kingsbury's novels: Waiting for Morning. This book prompted me to spend some time in Lamentations, and at one point I preached on Lamentations 3 at church - all because of reading one of Kingsbury's novels on the faithfulness of God.
These particular novels are interesting because they not only describe God's faithfulness (each in a different way) but because they also describe the ways in which God calls the lost to Himself and protects the redeemed. In Where Yesterday Lives, a young woman's unexpected loss brings her face to face with the ways in which her faith has become less than active. As she explores her past, she must come to terms with what her future will look like. In When Joy Came to Stay, the realities of depression and expectations are explored, with a stark examination at what happens when living a lie becomes more than unbearable. In On Every Side, the battle for religious freedoms is part of the story, but it's not the whole story, it's just one way in which the characters interact on their journey to find Truth. God cares deeply for His children; these stories show some of the "real life" ways in which this reality finds expression.
I have been blessed to read these stories, and I am glad that an author like Karen Kingsbury has the ability to create characters and write tales that are relevant and fresh for women (and men) who are believers.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255