Author(s): Karen Kingsbury and Gary Smalley
Genre: Christian Fiction
Rating: 5 of 5 stars
She has locked up her heart, convinced that no one – including God – could love her. Four unlikely people – Alzheimer’s patients – find the cracks in Ashley’s heart and slowly help her remember.
Then comes the nightmare of September 11, which forever changes the lives of the Baxter family, causing them to remember what is important and leading them to make decisions that are both heartbreaking and hope-filled.
Landon Blake, who has loved Ashley since he was a teenager, tries to dull the pain of her rejection by immersing himself in the rescue efforts at Ground Zero.
Tragedy and healing. Hurt and forgiveness. Redemption. And powerful lessons about remembering.
There is a lot happening in this book, but it’s fairly easy to keep track of. The timing of this book is from the summer of 2001 until the fall of that same year. A majority of this book occurs during the September 11 attacks and how the Baxter family is affected by it. This was the first book that ever made me feel the impact of that day, since I was just 13 and had never heard of the World Trade Center before it happened. I was far away from the effects of that day.
The book focuses on Ashley’s story. She was introduced in the first book of this series, as someone who was aloof and distant, not wanting a relationship with God and not very concerned about being a good mother to her three-year-old son. She ends up working at an adult care center that specializes in Alzheimer’s patients, hoping being around them will jumpstart her heart and make her feel again. She falls in love with the people there and how she is helping them. In the process, she learns a lot about the human spirit and what she wants to remember in her last days. Is she living a life worth remembering?
One of the things I most love about Karen Kingsbury is the steadfast way she mixes in Biblical truth with fictional storytelling. Many Christian authors are focusing more on the fiction, less on the faith, but Kingsbury manages to incorporate an amazing story, along with a boatload of faith issues. Her characters are real. They are real in their faith and real in their mistakes. I’ve read a lot of Christian chick lit and while I love it, I also finish feeling a bit disappointed, like they were afraid of really embracing faith and Jesus and making Him the center of their novel. There were so many faith issues brought up, including someone finding their way back into the church, someone trying to find their place within God’s ministry, someone questioning faith and why people rely on it so much. She doesn’t shy away from the tough issues, which is what I love about her.
This turned out to be one of the best books I’ve read in a really long time. There were points when I wanted to throw the book down and scream, but I think that’s telling of a good author. She made me feel things deeply. When they hurt, I hurt. When they rejoiced, I rejoiced. I feel a part of this family. I feel like I could sit down to dinner with them and have a connection with each and every one of them. The book wasn’t my usual puppies, sunshine, and rainbows but I am so glad I pressed on, even when tragedy and sadness made me want to shut the book and never open it again. This book is real life.
What’s the last book you read that you felt deeply connected to the characters?