Review: One Perfect Day by Lauraine Snelling

51sk2b7tptl_sl500_aa240_ One Perfect Day by Lauraine Snelling 

Two mothers are preparing for what could be the last Christmas with their families intact.  Nora’s teenage twins will be heading off to college next year, while Jenna’s daughter, Heather, is on a transplant list waiting for a new heart.  

Nora, the ultimate Christian mom, gets up each day to do her devotions and write in her journal.  Everything in her home is just so.  The decorations, the gifts, the food- she is preparing for the perfect Christmas.  The only thing out of place is that her husband is away on a business trip. 

Jenna, a single Christian mom who lost her husband in Desert Storm when Heather was a baby, works nights in the ER.  She tries to make everything perfect for what could be Heather’s last Christmas, hiding her tears behind closed doors.  Heather, a young adult who has been treated like a much younger child due to her infirmaries, is a great kid but would like her mom to talk honestly with her about her fears and her future. 

Things abruptly change as a tragedy on a stormy night brings these two families together, though they never actually meet.  God is with both families as one deals with heartbreak and the other cautiously begins to hope and plan for a future. Nora slides into depression as her family and friends attempt to pull her out of it.  Jenna, always thinking of the other mother, feels some guilt over their good fortune.  She is publicly optimistic but privately terrified that Heather’s body will reject her new heart. 

There is joy, though, for Jenna, as she watches Heather become stronger, do things for herself, meet a boy, make new friends, plan ahead.  And there is a budding relationship for her too, as she moves from the caretaker role in a child centered home to a time when she can think about having a life of her own.  

Nora initially rejects the support of family and friends and the comfort of her church, retreating to her bed and sleeping the days away.  She is unable to help her family through their grief and heartache because her pain is too raw.  But she has the unfailing love and devotion of the family dog, who needs her to get up out of bed to let her out and feed her, and who just wants to be near her without demanding anything in return.  The dog was my favorite character in the book!

Each year I try to read one seasonal book during the holidays, although Christian fiction isn’t something I normally read as I generally find it too preachy and sappy. One Perfect Day isn’t either of those things.  The way the family members react to their circumstances is realistic and emotional.  I found the book to be very positive and inspirational and would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good family story.  

Big thanks to Miriam at Hachette Book Group for sending me this novel to review.

A Sad Goodbye in the Blogging Community

She was a tireless blogger who worked hard to build a community of book bloggers, and was so successful at doing that.  Perhaps you knew her from The Weekly Geeks.  Or Bookworms Carnival.  Or the Read a Thon.  She was a prolific reader and wrote lovely reviews. She was extremely generous, giving away most of the books she read.  She was the famous Dewey of The Hidden Side of a Leaf.  And I can hardly believe it, but she’s gone.  Read the sad news HERE.

Review: The Knitting Circle by Ann Hood

The Knitting Circle by Ann Hood is a beautiful book about a painful subject. Mary Baxter and her husband, Dylan, are shell shocked after their only daughter, 5 year old Stella, dies suddenly and unexpectedly from bacterial meningitis.  In the months of grief that follow, Mary’s relationships are faltering; she stops going to work, struggles to communicate with her husband, can barely speak to her mother.  This is the story of how Mary learns to live again.

At the urging of her mother, Mary joins a knitting circle.  She finds knitting therapeutic and distracting, just what she needs.  She begins to learn more about the other people in the circle and all the reasons they are there, reasons that include suffering, tragedy, and loss. 

But I don’t want you to think this is a story to avoid because it’s too sad.  It IS sad, but it’s also inspiring, and shows the restorative power of friendship and reaching out to others.. how sharing our pain can lighten the load.  It is a heartfelt story of hope that I read in 2 sittings, stopping only to sleep and eat. 

Hood, who lost her own daughter to a virulent strain of strep (also at age 5), writes from heartbreaking personal experience.  The novel rings so true, and I ached for Mary (and also for Ms. Hood) as she went from the depths of her grief to the beginnings of healing. This book is wonderful and I highly recommend it.

Visit Ann Hood’s website HERE