Softly and tenderly is a story about two families all connected by one woman, Jade Benson. She is in her thirties, married to Max, a Lawyer. She lives near her in-laws June and Reb who are well-to-do Southern folks. Jade owns two businesses and is trying to care for her ailing mother, Beryl who is dying of leukemia. Jade and the family members around her have to grapple with enormous life issues in this 289 page story. There is infertility, abortion, divorce, infidelity, adoption, pre-marital sex, drug addictions, death, deception, abandonment issues and social climbers. Frankly I was overwhelmed. I had a hard time relating to the main character. I couldn't believe with everything on her plate she was still standing. If I wasn't reading this book for a review I would have shelved it. But I didn't and by the end I was glad I kept going.
I really wanted to like this book. I liked the edgy feeling to the book, the very natural and casual voice of the authors. Yet, I found it did not follow a â€˜typical' Christian format. I do not want to open a whole new can of worms, but for a story about all believers but one in the main cast, the issues of sin were handled so lightly. A few characters felt their indiscretions were no big deal. That is fine on page ten of a story but by the end as a reader I want to see restoration. I want to believe that my God is bigger than ALL the stuff Jade is dealing with. And He is, but the story doesn't actually say that.
I struggled to keep engaged with the plot until almost 100 pages. Then I reached the point where I wanted to find closure. I needed some form of redemption for the weary sinners. This is something I never fully received. There is an undercurrent of Christian themes but not woven in as much as I would like. The characters seem to come back to Christ but there is no actual outward repentance. They simply decide to keep trying. Some of the characters have no resolution at all (June and Reb).
Despite my concerns with the book I still feel it is a good read. The authors have done well in creating authentic issues that real women face. I only wished they had taken a few of them and delved deeper into the heart of those issues instead of cramming them all into one story. Jade does â€˜crack' before the end of the book which helped me tremendously in believing her. However, then suddenly the book jumps to a semi-sorted out "happy ending". It was too soon. It felt like there were chapters missing. If this young woman has been dealing with some of these issues most of her adult life and some of them intensely for several weeks you can't just say, â€˜okay, I'm feeling better and everything is going to work out fine'. The spiritual journey she was on seemed stunted. Again this is something I feel would be eliminated if the issues were fewer.
After reading other reviews I discovered this book is number two in a three book series. Perhaps the characters would have felt more real to me if I had some history with them. When I read the discussion questions at the back I learned a little more about where the authors wanted to take me as a reader. I only wished I had arrived there before the end of the book.
I will pick up and read the third book by these two authors in hopes of a little easier ride.
I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneezeÂ®.com <http://BookSneezeÂ®.com> book review bloggers program. 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
I love Jesus, but I have to confess that I do not always love Christian fiction. Many times while reading Christian novels I find myself thinking, "Cheesy, unauthentic and boring!" and reading about every third page. I really enjoy reading, and I don't want what little time I have available for reading for pleasure to be any of those things. But I really liked Softly and Tenderly. I felt like it was an honest portrayal of what it's like to suffer, feel real emotion and then lay those emotions, feelings and your will at the feet of Jesus. Several of the characters were funny and spirited. I actually laughed out loud a couple of times. There were a few villains as well. This book had enough twists and turns, both in the story line and in the characters' responses to them, to keep things interesting without frustrating the reader. I found myself wanting to hate one character, love another, shake the next one and applaud the next. I took away a few nuggets of truth and an appreciation for the story very nicely written by Sara Evans and Rachel Hauck. It definitely gets a two thumbs of from me and I highly recommend it to you. I'll be waiting for the book that follows!
Softly & Tenderly is the second book in the Songbird series. I didn't know that when I requested the book. I had no problem reading the book and understanding what was going on without reading the first book. The book started out a little slow for me.
Jade is a married woman who is having trouble having a baby. Jade is also taking care of her mother who is battling cancer. Jade's world continues to be rocked when she discovers more secrets about her family. The worse being her husband has fathered a son that she did not know about until another tragedy strikes, which causes her husband to be honest. Softly & Tenderly reminds me of a Soap Opera set to print. There is a lot of drama and tragedy in the book. In my opinion too much drama and tragedy. The books ending was very good and left me wanting to read the next book in the series.
Jade's perfect life is falling apart and not just the fact that she can't get pregnant. Her perfect lawyer husband, max has serious flaws. He is self-centered and self-involved. If that were not enough to cap all that off Jade discovers his infidelifty has produced a son and that son is now 19 monthes old. Her husband has been secretly financially supporting him but physically and emotionally ignoring him until his mother dies. Now Max has decided that he wants to raise the boy with Jade. Jade is disallussioned to say the least. As if that were not enough Jade's free spirit mother is dying.
This is a great woman's book for any married woman or woman thinking of getting married. Jade is facing life's turns and having to deal with them as they too quickly happen all at once. I liked the way that this book looked at marrage straight in the eye and didn't pull punches. Sometimes life just isn't fair and the only way to get through too many problems to to drop out of life and slow down and only handle one problem at a time. This is what Jade is doing by dealing with the one problem that can't be delayed--her mother's death. This is a good book and I recommend reading it to anyone dealing with life and marrage.
This book was provided free for this review by Booksneeze.com.
When I first started reading this book I thought to myself that is not a spiritual book but that changed my mind once I had read more. I wish though when people claim to be a Christian that they really knew what the bible says but they twist scriptures to fit what they believe and that is wrong. The 2 major points I had did not like in this book are that the characters in the book believe in fate and believe in the afterlife such as Heaven and Hell. Both of those are incorrect and the bible actually tells the truth about such things and if only people would learn what the bible really teaches then they would be happy. GOD does not control our lives and there is no such thing as fate. Life just happens and as the one scripture says that unforeseen occurrences befall as all. Meaning things just happen and its not because its GOD's will or anything else. This can be seen in the scripture Ecclesiastes 9:11 which reads " I returned to see under the sun that the swift do not have the race, nor the mighty ones the battle, nor do the wise also have the food, nor do the understanding ones also have the riches, nor do even those having knowledge have the favor; because time and unforeseen occurrence befall them all."
The second thing that bothered me about this book was the mention of afterlife which I have talked about alot on this blog before and you can look at previous blog posts to see more lengthy things on it. But once again when you die, you die. You are in a sleepless state and that is it. In the scripture Eccl. 9:5: "The living are conscious that they will die; but as for the dead, they are conscious of nothing at all."Which means if the dead are conscious of nothing then they cannot look down upon us from Heaven or burn in Hell. You can read more on my other posts before.
I enjoyed the book and spent 2 day reading it but I wish people who claim to be Christian would actually not talk about stuff they know nothing about.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. 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 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."