Sunday, March 1, 2015

March Featured Book #1

Before sharing my review, here's a bit of information from Amy.

A Word from Amy...

I think most writers would agree that any truly heartfelt story draws at least some inspiration from people and events which have touched their lives. Then Sings My Soul is no exception. I braided three of my passions together to create this story: my work as a registered nurse caring for elderly patients and their families; my grandfather, who was a savant hobby lapidarist and died a month shy of his 95th birthday; and my love for the people of Ukraine (where my ancestors are from). I wanted to reveal the hope that exists in an often forgotten segment of the population — the elderly — while at the same time show how God moves steadfast and unchanging, but also unexpectedly, through our lives. I incorporated these things into the story of 94-year-old Jakob quite like the way a lapidarist goes about his craft, through the ugly, even filthy beginnings of a raw stone, to the cutting and angling of the different facets of a gem, and eventually to the shine and brilliance of the finished piece. I developed quite a crush on Jakob as I wrote, and I think — I hope — readers will find courage in his often painful but ultimately triumphant journey. So many times we cannot see God in the midst of our journeys. As Jakob and his daughter Nel navigate what seem like overwhelming loneliness and endings, they find that God never left them, and that he is working on and through all of our stories, always. (A note to readers: the blue gemstone on the cover is one my grandfather actually faceted! There is an explanation of this very special stone in the back of the book.)

My review...

Nel Stewart returns home after the death of her mother to help care for her father, Jakob, who is suffering from dementia and a broken hip. Nel feels she failed her parents by not being there and plans to remedy that, even if it costs her a relationship with her boyfriend. Jakob is carrying a lifetime of shame and guilt and does not want to be a burden on anyone. He agrees to share his story with Nel after she discovers information regarding his brother and a life in the Ukraine that she knew nothing about. Will learning about her father’s past bring healing and a renewed relationship for them? Told in alternating time periods and viewpoints, Sorrells deftly tackles a difficult to read topic in a raw yet gentle way. Sensory details, lyrical prose, and dramatic scenes wrap the reader as the story unfolds. The horrors associated with Eastern Europe in the early 20th century are skillfully balanced with present-day hope. The religious aspect does not overwhelm, instead exemplifying people relying on God, His amazing grace, and His unconditional love. This book is one to read in a thoughtful manner (and not just skim) so that the descriptions can be fully appreciated and understood. The characters will stay with you long after the final page.

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