Thursday, February 19, 2009

Review: Tender Grace by Jackina Stark

About the Book: Audrey Eaton awakes at three in the morning and gets up to retrieve her husband, Tom, from the recliner where he has fallen asleep watching a ball game. But when she enters the living room and looks at his gentle face in the soft lamp light, she knows their time together is over. Grief attacks her until all she can think about is how much she wants her old life back. Determined to find healing, she embarks on a journey to the one place Tom and she always intended to visit but never did. Along the way, she discovers, through shared experiences with friends old and new, the meaning of the "tender graces" God provides each and every day.

My Review: It's rare to find what would be classified as literary fiction in the Christian fiction subgenre. Romantic suspense, historical fiction...those are in abundance. But strong character driven novels that slowly unfold and sweep you away with the beauty of the language? Not so much.

But more and more, Christian fiction is expanding and Tender Grace is a perfect example of that. At the beginning of the story, Audrey is in a desperate place. She lost her husband 15 months ago and has ceased to find purpose and meaning in her days, she feels she is nothing more than a tomb. She describes the sorrow that lives in her with this line from Tennyson, "But the tender grace of a day that is dead, will never come back to me."

Out of a need to live, she decides to venture West and savor the trip along the way. On a whim, she grabs Tom's Bible and at the end of each day she reads a portion of John. John is one of my favorite books in the Bible and is, as she describes it, "brimming with hope." Her nightly reading in John parallels her own journey of healing.

This is the story of a woman who is in the deepest place of pain, learning to live again. It's the story of coming to full terms with the past, learning how to reawaken the soul, and to cling to the tender grace of God found in each day. It's about a woman learning that it's the little things that bring life, and that God is in those little chance encounters.

Simply put, this is an outstanding debut, richly written, fiction that is infused with faith at its absolute best. I don't think you have to have suffered such a great loss like Audrey to be encouraged and find hope in these pages. Recommended.

Rating: 4.75/5
Things You Might Want to Know: This is Christian fiction with a strong faith element. But part of what is so masterful about this book is that it never comes across as didactic or forced, the probing for meaning in the pages of John is deeply rooted in and imperative to the story and the book could not exist without it.



Ashley said...

This sounds like a wonderful book! I am definitely looking forward to reading it!

Darlene said...

Great review Amy. This novel sounds so good that it's going on my wishlist right away.

Anna said...

What a wonderful review! I'd love to read this one, though I think it'll be hard given that the way she discovered her husband's death seems similar to my mom's experience with my dad. That might be hard. Anyway, thanks for bringing this book to my attention.

Diary of an Eccentric

ibeeeg said...

Thanks for the review. This book sounds great. I am going to read it...on my list it goes.

caribookscoops said...

Wonderful review. Sounds like a great book that deals with grief and finding peace through God. Thanks for the review.

Anonymous said...

I'm adding this one to my TBR list to be sure!

Anonymous said...

Read it, loved it! Jackina was my Grammar professor, and it was so wonderful to see her 'word craftsmanship' come to life in a beautiful story. If you haven't already, read it. :)

Anonymous said...

This is a beautifully written book. I am an avid reader and in the thousands of books I've read I've never finished one and immediately opened it up and started it over. I read this book twice in 4 days. I think a person of any faith, or no faith, can enhance their appreciation of their loved ones, their fellow man, and their life by reading this book. Coming out of a rather rough time in my life made me even more grateful to read has helped me so much. It was a lucky find for me at the library...I will be buying it today!

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