An encouraging guide, particularly for Christian caregivers. (17 pages of color family photos)



Whitaker (I’m Sleeping with the Pastor!, 2013) recalls the final years of her mother’s life and offers practical and moral support for readers caring for ill relatives.

This graceful family memoir begins on the morning of the Christian funeral service for the author’s mother, Mary Scott Jackson, in January 1989. Whitaker was due to deliver the eulogy, titled “All Is Well,” but she didn’t actually feel like everything was right that day; indeed, she wondered how she could get through a speech when her grief was so fresh. It’s an effective, even gripping way to open the story, and Whitaker keeps readers waiting until the final chapter to find out how the eulogy went. Before that, she offers a minibiography of her mother, who was born in Georgia in 1914, worked at Philadelphia’s Jefferson Hospital for 39 years, overcame multiple miscarriages to raise six children, and was heavily involved in her local church. The author also remembers the final three years that her mother lived with her in Dallas. “Mom was my best friend,” the author recalls, which eased the difficulty of accommodating her in the two-bedroom duplex that Whitaker shared with her husband and two sons. Eventually, Jackson’s worsening osteoarthritis led to incontinence and decreased mobility, and a reluctant decision was made to place her in South Dallas Nursing Home in early 1988. Jackson later went into a diabetic coma and recovered, but she finally succumbed to aspiration pneumonia. As appended reflections from the author’s siblings reveal, they regretted putting their mother in a nursing home when she’d specifically stated her opposition to the idea. However, Whitaker consistently reassures readers who might be going through similar situations: “don’t beat yourself up. You didn’t know what the future held, and you have limitations,” she writes. The “Getting Through the Night” tip sections at the end of each chapter are down-to-earth and helpful, featuring pithy advice, such as “Expect emotional spirals.” The number of years that have passed since the events dilute the emotional power of the book somewhat, but this is still a successful remembrance overall.

An encouraging guide, particularly for Christian caregivers. (17 pages of color family photos)

Pub Date: May 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5456-0247-8

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Xulon Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2017

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A YA novel that treats its subject and its readers with respect while delivering an engaging story.



In the ninth book in the Bluford young-adult series, a young Latino man walks away from violence—but at great personal cost.

In a large Southern California city, 16-year-old Martin Luna hangs out on the fringes of gang life. He’s disaffected, fatherless and increasingly drawn into the orbit of the older, rougher Frankie. When a stray bullet kills Martin’s adored 8-year-old brother, Huero, Martin seems to be heading into a life of crime. But Martin’s mother, determined not to lose another son, moves him to another neighborhood—the fictional town of Bluford, where he attends the racially diverse Bluford High. At his new school, the still-grieving Martin quickly makes enemies and gets into trouble. But he also makes friends with a kind English teacher and catches the eye of Vicky, a smart, pretty and outgoing Bluford student. Martin’s first-person narration supplies much of the book’s power. His dialogue is plain, but realistic and believable, and the authors wisely avoid the temptation to lard his speech with dated and potentially embarrassing slang. The author draws a vivid and affecting picture of Martin’s pain and confusion, bringing a tight-lipped teenager to life. In fact, Martin’s character is so well drawn that when he realizes the truth about his friend Frankie, readers won’t feel as if they are watching an after-school special, but as though they are observing the natural progression of Martin’s personal growth. This short novel appears to be aimed at urban teens who don’t often see their neighborhoods portrayed in young-adult fiction, but its sophisticated characters and affecting story will likely have much wider appeal.

A YA novel that treats its subject and its readers with respect while delivering an engaging story.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2004

ISBN: 978-1591940173

Page Count: 152

Publisher: Townsend Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2013

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A short, simple, and sweet tale about two friends and a horse.

Mary's Song

From the Dream Horse Adventure Series series , Vol. 1

A novel tells the story of two spirited girls who set out to save a lame foal in 1952.

Mary, age 12, lacks muscle control of her legs and must use a wheelchair. Her life is constantly interrupted by trips with her widower father to assorted doctors, all of whom have failed to help her. Mary tolerates the treatments, hoping to one day walk unassisted, but her true passion involves horses. Possessing a library filled with horse books, she loves watching and drawing the animals at a neighboring farm. She longs to own one herself. But her father, overprotective due to her disability and his own lingering grief over Mary’s dead mother, makes her keep her distance. Mary befriends Laura, the emotionally neglected daughter of the wealthy neighboring farm owners, and the two share secret buggy rides. Both girls are attracted to Illusion, a beautiful red bay filly on the farm. Mary learns that Illusion is to be put down by a veterinarian because of a lame leg. Horrified, she decides to talk to the barn manager about the horse (“Isn’t it okay for her to live even if she’s not perfect? I think she deserves a chance”). Soon, Mary and Laura attempt to raise money to save Illusion. At the same time, Mary begins to gain control of her legs thanks to water therapy and secret therapeutic riding with Laura. There is indeed a great deal of poignancy in a story of a girl with a disability fighting to defend the intrinsic value of a lame animal. But this book, the first installment of the Dream Horse Adventure Series, would be twice as touching if Mary interacted with Illusion more. In the tale’s opening, she watches the foal from afar, but she actually spends very little time with the filly she tries so hard to protect. This turns out to be a strange development given the degree to which the narrative relies on her devotion. Count (Selah’s Sweet Dream, 2015) draws Mary and Laura in broad but believable strokes, defined mainly by their unrelenting pluckiness in the face of adversity. While the work tackles disability, death, and grief, Mary’s and Laura’s environments are so idyllic and their optimism and perseverance so remarkable that the story retains an aura of uncomplicated gentleness throughout.

A short, simple, and sweet tale about two friends and a horse.

Pub Date: N/A


Page Count: -

Publisher: Hastings Creations Group

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2016

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