Darlene and Brad were concerned about the safety of their children so they moved their family from Houston to a small town, taking over the fixer-upper farm left to Darlene by her grandparents. The adjustment is difficult. Brad has a long commute. The kids have a difficult time adjusting to their new schools.
Darlene gets to know their neighbor, Layla, a middle aged woman managing a ranch by herself. Brad recognizes Layla as a movie star who left the Hollywood scene several years ago. As Darlene and Layla form a tentative friendship, Layla's hurt over the suicide of her bipolar teen-aged daughter comes to the surface. Layla is mad at God for the loss of her daughter and the marriage that could not be held together.
Darlene's own world begins to fall apart when she finds out that her middle daughter is a cutter, using a self-damaging way of coping with stress. The tension in her own the marriage increases. Then, when she overhears Brad's end of a phone conversation, she wonders if he is having an affair.
Darlene struggles with her relationship to God. She struggles with her feelings toward an attractive man who is obviously attracted to her. She feels she has lost the support of her family. Who can she turn to? Even God seems far away.
Wiseman has written a great novel that kept my attention through to the end. The plot is thought provoking. Who would I turn to if my world fell apart? How would my relationship with God be affected? Would I question God's will? Would I accuse Him of punishing me with the circumstances?
I learned about cutting and how many teens are turning to it as a means of using one pain to distract from another. Darlene had taken a job (another source of tension in the marriage) and works with a high-functioning autistic girl. So I also learned about autism.
Wiseman's characters are well done. I easily identified with their hurt and subsequent questions about God and His will for their lives.
The end of the novel might require you keep some tissues nearby, but don't worry, there is also glorious hope.
Thomas Nelson has made the first half of the novel available in e-book format for just 99 cents. You can go here to find out more. The entire novel will be available mid-Arpil.
Beth Wiseman is a noted author of novels about the Amish. This is her first contemporary setting. I do hope she writes more in this style. She was an award winning journalist when, through a personal crisis in her own life, her faith was so strengthened her agent suggested she write a Christian novel. She left journalism behind in 2008 to become a full-time writer of Amish fiction. She was the 2010 INSPY Award winner, 2011 Carol Award winner (American Christian Fiction Writers), and the 2011 Inspirational Readers Choice Award Winner.
To find out more about Beth and watch a video showing why she wrote this novel, go to her website: http://bethwiseman.com/
Thomas Nelson Publishers, 320 pages. Publisher product page.
I received an egalley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.