A moving story of a mother’s devotion to her mentally impaired child, inspired by her faith in God.

JOY IN THE MORNING

A young woman with theatrical dreams heads to New York City in the 1950s in this debut Christian novel.

Ann Marie Jernigan grew up in Bonner Valley, Texas. After her graduation from the University of Texas in 1955, she moves to New York to pursue a stage career. She secures a part-time job caring for Sarah Buffington, an elderly woman, in her home. Sarah’s son, Nelson, who employed Ann, is an unlikable man. But Sarah is quite loving toward the caregiver. Through this position, Ann meets Sarah’s grandson Richard and they begin dating, continuing the relationship even when she quits the job to work regularly onstage. After they wed, Sarah cautions Ann that she fears Richard has inherited his father’s worst trait, which she dubs the Buffington Syndrome: “They feel it necessary to control everything and everyone around them, especially their wives and children.” Ann becomes pregnant in 1959 but finds out the child will be born severely neurologically impaired. Richard, never keen on kids, immediately seeks to institutionalize the child rather than have their comfortable life upended, hitting Ann when she pushes to care for the baby. She leaves Richard and eventually moves back to Bonner Valley with her child, Joy. Ann believes Joy is “destined to impact many lives in a way known only by God.” Ann starts over and opens a voice, dance, and theater school, where Joy sits in on classes for the auditory stimulation. Evans acknowledges that Joy’s poignant story was inspired by two family members’ experiences caring for their own impaired children, and the tale skillfully reflects that personal insight into a challenging life. The author’s background as an English teacher also shows in the touching book’s overall quality. Natural dialogue and a fully developed plot arc are deftly executed. The undercurrent of faith that keeps Ann going through a difficult journey will appeal to fans of Christian fiction but is not so strong to dissuade readers with other beliefs.

A moving story of a mother’s devotion to her mentally impaired child, inspired by her faith in God.

Pub Date: Nov. 14, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-973637-84-4

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Westbow Press

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2019

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

THE AUTHENTICITY PROJECT

A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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