Meg Moseley tackles the subject of a cult-like patriarchal church in her debut novel *When Sparrows Fall*. I chose to review this book because I was intrigued by the plot description.
I really wanted to like this book. I enjoy a bit of a "page-turner" and this book does keep the reader guessing at the outcome until the last chapter. However, I felt that the characters played into some negative stereotypes regarding homeschoolers, which surprised me since Ms. Moseley homeschooled her own children. Then I found myself in disbelief about some of the characters and their behavior in the story. I don't want to give away too many details, but some elements of the story just didn't flow for me. Part of that came from the fact that Miranda's life just seemed to change too drastically, too quickly. True liberation from that kind of situation cannot come through a new haircut and a pair of jeans. I also felt to a certain extent that Miranda was "cheated" out of her own independence by the presence of Jack, another male she could attach to rather than standing alone. I think the story might have been stronger if the "love interest" wasn't included. That role could've been fulfilled by a sister or aunt type character instead so the focus would've remained on Miranda and her attempt to rise up from oppression. I did relate to Miranda in her feelings of maternal protection, though, which explains many of her actions in the book.
Even though this particular book wasn't my cup of tea, I think the subject was thought-provoking and could start some interesting dialogues in book groups.
Miranda Hanford is not a free woman. Married at a young age to a controlling, legalistic man, she is now the widowed mother of six children. Although her husband is gone, Miranda is expected to submit to the authority of her pastor, Mason Chandler. But when Mason announces hearing "from the Lord" that all church members are to sell their property and move together to a new community, Miranda can't bring herself to go along with his plan. All she wants is to be left alone, but Mason terrifies her with threats of what will happen if she does not comply with his wishes.
Then Miranda suffers a serious injury, and Jack, the brother of her late husband, is shocked to learn that he has been appointed guardian of Miranda's children until she is well again. Even though he's only met Miranda once before, Jack is willing to help. Helping with meal preparation and homeschooling the children is one thing, but helping Miranda escape her church situation is another, especially since she's too afraid to tell Jack the truth....
I applaud Meg Moseley for delving into the topic of spiritual and psychological abuse. When Sparrows Fall is a well-crafted work of fiction, but I'm afraid it does reflect reality for many well-meaning families today. Indeed, the book contains several thinly-veiled references to philosophies espoused by extremely conservative Christian leaders. If you've spent much time poking around the Christian homeschool blogosphere, you'll catch the allusions. I could say a lot more about this topic, but in the interest of keeping this book review a book review, I'll just say that I appreciate that Meg Moseley points out that there can be a dark side behind beautiful, old-fashioned dresses; perfectly-behaved children; and humongous, smiling, homeschooling, "quiverfull" families.
The characters of Miranda and Jack are well-developed, the storyline is exciting and suspenseful, and the subject of spiritual authority is worthy of careful consideration. I enjoyed this book and recommend it.
Disclosure: I received a free advance copy of this book from WaterBrook Multnomah. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
I thoroughly enjoyed Meg Moseley's well-written story of second chances. Divorced professor Jack receives an unexpected phone call one morning asking him to come take care of his dead half-brother's six children. Their mother, Miranda, has taken a fall and will be out of commission for a while; Jack has been named the children's guardian. He arrives to find an unusual household: Miranda's family belongs to a very legalistic church. The children are homeschooled and very sheltered, and Miranda seems to be inordinately afraid of her pastor. Jack's suspicions and Miranda's secrets collide as he tries to unravel her past and free her from her present. The romance is believable and the ending is satisfying.
*I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review
When widowed Miranda falls off of a cliff and winds up in the hospital, her long lost brother-in-law, Jack is called in to serve as temporary guardian to Miranda's six children, in the book, " When Sparrows Fall ", written by Meg Moseley, a first time author.
Jack, a college professor, soon learns the children have been homeschooled in a very strict, and fundemental household where anything " worldly" is not allowed.. Although the children's mother, Miranda, is a character with a mothers heart for her children, she struggles with her own faith, as she, and her fellow church members find themselves stuck in the selfish teachings of their pastor, who harbors secrets of his own.
While Jack, and Miranda differ in their ideas of child rearing, I was entertained in how each of the personalities of the children was so detailed. I found the strength of Miranda, in her faith journey, as well as in motherhood, and how it really " jelled" in seeing the kids the way I did in the story.
It was not the best book I have ever read, nor was it a page turner for me, having a few times, wanting to just not finish . But, I did continue on, and in some way, was glad I did. A first novel, in its shaky, and almost uncertainty, but an author, if given more time, and encouragement, will become one that captures hearts in future books.
This book was very interesting to read. I know that's a pretty vague description, but it was....interesting.
Meg Mosley tells the tale of Miranda Hanford, who is a widowed mother of 6 children, living in the country, back roads of Slades Creek, Georgia. She was wife to a controlling husband, and also belongs to a church with a controlling pastor. She is an extremely conservative, homeschooling mother, who is overly cautious and protective of her children. When her pastor, Mason Chandler, tells the congregation that it is God's will to relocate the church and its members to another state, Miranda is adamant about staying.
The problem, however, is that she feels threatened by what her pastor could do to her, because he knows her darkest secrets. She feels trapped. In her distress she has a terrible accident, and reaches out for help from her estranged, half-brother-in-law, Jack Hanford. Jack comes to her aid and assists with the children. His love and concern about Miranda and her children grows, but is it enough to protect her from the fear of her pastor?
The story line is intriguing in many ways. For instance, I wanted to know how Miranda was managing 6 children by herself. I wanted to understand how she came to marry someone who wanted to control her. I wanted to find out why she believed the things she does, what her story is. And of course I wanted to know why on earth she belongs to a church whose pastor is domineering. Many of these answers unfold at a steady pace. Others, however, are painfully slow in being revealed. The author does a great job of developing the characters, including all 6 of the children. I felt like I could see the characters in my mind and that I got to know them while reading this book.
What I'm not too fond of is the misperception this book may unintentionally give. It describes much about Miranda's conservative Christian views, her peculiar dress, her homeschooling practices, etc. While there is much reasoning given for her actions and even some changes in her behaviors, there are people who have such a negative view of conservative and/or homeschooling Christians. This might add fuel to the fire, so to speak. The other thing I was uncomfortable with was the love interest/relationship that develops between Miranda and Jack. There weren't really any inappropriate details given, however, I found it peculiar for a Miranda to fall in love with her brother-in-law.
At any rate, this book held my interest and I really wanted to know what happened in the end.
(I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. All opinions expressed are my own. I was not required to give a positive reveiw.)