An excellent collection of three convicting and inspiring novels

Renn Shearin

4.5 Stars

November 1, 2012

Where Yesterday Lives

Ellen Barrett is a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist with an uncertain marriage, a forgotten faith, and haunting memories of her picturesque hometown and the love she left behind. The eldest of five siblings, she longs for the time, long ago, when they were a happy family. Now Ellen’s beloved father is dead, and she returns to her childhood home to make peace–with the people who still live there, with the losses and changes that time has wrought, and with the future God has set before her.

When Joy Came to Stay

Maggie Stovall is one of the golden people. She has it all together...at least on the surface. Ben Stovall is a godly husband and successful attorney. He has no idea of the darkness about to overtake his life. Amanda Joy is a child of society–abused, broken, thrown away. But her trust in God is still alive. When Joy Came to Stay is the heart-wrenching story of one woman’s descent into the shadows of depression, her husband’s search for understanding, and a precious child’s unwavering faith.

On Every Side

Faith Evans is an up-and-coming newscaster, a woman of honor and integrity who must take a stand against the one man she never imagined would be her enemy. A beloved, hundred-year-old statue of Jesus stands in a small-town park–but some say it’s a clear violation of separation of church and state that must come down. Jordan Riley is a powerful attorney fighting for human rights and against God, but still reckoning with bitter boyhood losses. Amid political intrigue, social injustice, and personal conflicts, will love be enough when the battle rages on every side?

All three of the novels in this collection by Karen Kingsbury were excellent. All three novels addressed different issues that both women and men face in their struggles in life and with their beliefs in God, but all three novels clearly portrayed the importance of prayer and having a prayer life. The plots were all rich and contained elements that were either unexpected, tear jerking, or suspenseful.

Where Yesterday Lives was an excellent novel that displayed the importance of family, forgiveness, and fidelity particularly in marriage. Ellen and her sisters Jane, Amy and Megan and her brother Aaron were realistic characters, each with an exaggerated but still realistic character flaw. Ellen was completely self focused, Jane embittered and angry, Aaron felt unable to communicate so he blew up at people, Megan used to be rebel and had abandoned her family, and Amy was overly quiet, ignored, and gave in easily to her siblings. However, despite all of these attributes that pushed the family apart, as the book progressed, it was beautiful to see them beginning to work through their issues and actually begin to understand one another. The book was written so that at points in the story events that occurred in the characters' past was revealed in order that the reader would have a better understanding as to why the characters were acting and feeling a certain way.

When Joy Came to Stay was a compelling story that revealed the pain that secrets, lies, and bad choices can have on a person's mental health and their marriage or relationships with others. Maggie had a secret that she never told her husband that caused her to start having mental issues. She had stopped, or never really started, trusting God and relying on Him for answers, and it caused her to make some not so great decisions and become severely depressed. Ben, her husband, was an excellent character who stuck by his wife in the midst of it all and went to extreme lengths to discover the truth, get his wife back, and redeem their mistakes and their relationship with God and each other. I was truly inspired by his perseverance, and I was touched and moved watching Maggie's growth and her revitalization as she revealed her story and worked through her issues with the Lord. Amanda Joy was my favorite character because she always had an overwhelming faith in God even in the midst of some truly frightening circumstances. Despite these events, she never once stopped trusting and praying to her Savior.

On Every Side was a beautiful tale of one man's battle against God even as countless people in his life were praying for Him and as God was working on his heart. Jordan was very interesting to watch as he struggled against his feelings of rejection and hatred towards God for the death of his mother and loss of his sister. Faith Evans, his old childhood sweetheart, was an inspiring character who never stopped believing in Jordan and at the same time discovered that she had begun to trust in her own abilities instead of putting her faith in God and acting out in obedience and trust. There were several other minor characters that helped pull the novel together, and it was lovely to watch the story and characters begin to connect and to see how God was working out the events in their lives for good.

Overall, I really enjoyed all three novels, and I would highly recommend this collection of novels to any Karen Kinsgbury fans or readers that want to try out a Karen Kingsbury book for the first time.

I received this collection for free from the Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review.