TEST OF FAITH by Bonnie S.  Hirst


Surviving My Daughter's Life Sentence
Email this review


A mother recounts her struggle to maintain her belief in God in the face of her daughter’s life sentence in this inspirational memoir.

Debut author Hirst thought she was doing everything right. A devout Christian from a young age, she married her high school sweetheart, moved to a small Washington town to raise a family, and eventually opened two restaurants with her husband, Ron. God appeared to smile on her and her family. Then her 35-year-old daughter, Lacey, was sentenced to life without parole for hiring someone to kill her husband’s pregnant girlfriend. “Courtroom activity fades into the background as I query myself: Did I not pray correctly?” remembers the author. “Did I not believe enough in His power? Why has God forsaken my family and me?” Leading up to the trial, Hirst had been certain of her daughter’s innocence and eventual acquittal despite the widespread assumption that Lacey was guilty. Afterward, the author wasn’t sure of anything. This book is an account of how Hirst learned to be a mother to a woman permanently imprisoned, stepping in to raise Lacey’s children and supporting her daughter from the outside. It is also the story of a woman forced to restart her relationship with God from scratch. Hirst’s prose is quietly emotional and often powerful, as here when she describes her anxiety during Lacey’s long trial: “The unknown hung over me like a tornado funnel in the distance. I didn’t know where or how violently it might touch down. I cleaned closets, junk drawers, and file cabinets. By organizing unseen chaos, I attempted to regain order in my life.” The case itself—and the author’s relationship to it—is deeply engrossing while the book’s religious element is actually quite light. Hirst’s nightmare situation will be sympathetic to any reader. It is truly her quagmire—not Lacey’s—in which the audience will become ensnared. By the end, the author manages to get to a place that feels somehow redemptive, leaving readers to wonder whether they would be able to make it there as well. 

A sobering and revelatory account of a family tragedy unfolding over many years.

Pub Date: Sept. 24th, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-63152-594-0
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: She Writes Press
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 2019