Being new to Karen Kingsbury’s books, I found this collection a great place to start, and feel I’ll be better able now to guess which of her stories I’ll like best.
This set contains three novels, Where Yesterday Lives, When Joy Cam to Stay, and On Every Side. The first is my favorite. Told from several points of view, it allows the reader deep into the minds and hearts of wounded characters hiding from their own hurts. Misunderstandings make perfect sense when seen in different lights, and the heartbreaks of an outwardly perfect family falling apart are neatly juxtaposed with hurts of past and present. A much-loved father has died and the children squabble, wondering who was loved more or less, or pondering why everyone else makes different assumptions about a relationship seemingly lost. As the funeral approaches, tensions rise, and a stranger prays. Coincidence feels natural, prayers’ answers are pleasingly subtle, and redemption comes on the heels of very plausible outbursts of despair. I enjoyed the unforced emotions and the wholly relatable relationships of this novel and could scarcely put it down.
The second novel, When Joy Comes to Stay, tells of a seemingly perfect woman’s fall into depression. Secrets of the past have haunted her and come to dominate the present, but a perfect juxtaposition of events will bring new light to bear. I enjoyed the story but the coincidences annoyed me on occasion, reminding somewhat of Jodi Picault novels where message sometimes overwhelms the tale. If you love Jodi Picault and love Christian romance, this would be the perfect novel for you.
On Every Side is based on real events where a small town was asked to remove a Jesus statue from a public park. The author does a good job of pointing out that not everyone who wants the statue removed is evil, and not all media are anti-Christian. But the references to anti-Christian media and politics in the story felt a little overwhelming to me. Perhaps it’s just living in Oregon, or having first lived in England, that gives me a different point of view—I feel like Christianity is very well-treated in American media, and references to God seem so frequent I can’t imagine editors are trying to remove them. The story’s good though. The characters are pleasing though the bad guys for the most part are somewhat shady and one-dimensional. And the resolution is very satisfying. I enjoyed the novel, but I’ll probably look more for something less political in future.
A Kingsbury Collection forms a great introduction to the author’s writing, gives an excellent flavor for her different types of novels, and should have something to please all readers interested in trying out this justifiably popular Christian author.
Disclosure: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.
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