PUBLICATION DATE: November 11, 2011
ryn Grace is a self-published author that has created a series using childhood “Timeless Tales” as an inspiration. Finding a Heart of Peace is a novel based on The Old Woman in a Shoe story. This new approach to a Christian fiction romance was intriguing for me
Clare Snyder is worn out from her job as a schoolteacher, caring for her six young sons and life itself. She is a single mother with the weight of the world on her shoulders. She feels alone even in a crowded church. To top it off, the new assistant pastor, Drew Young reacts negatively and snaps at her little boy after the child places a slimy lollipop into the man’s hand. The last straw for the overwhelmed mother is having the assistant pastor tell her that her husband should discipline the children. She is done with church people who are so judgmental and holier than thou. She determines never to go back to the church with the boys.
Clare cries constantly, overwhelmed with grief and responsibility. She seems to live on grief and fear since her husband’s death, three years ago. She is unable to move forward in life. This affects her children in many ways. Her mother Doris helps with the boys when Clare is at her job. The woman is completely shallow, constantly belittles Clare and pushes for her to have a relationship with someone who “has money”. The young widow wants nothing to do with dating.
Drew feels guilty when he learns that Clare is a widow. He knows he has been a poor testimony to the woman. He gathers a crew of church members and makes arrangements for the group to help the family. His plans include giving Clare a nice weekend away while church members work on her home which is in need of repair. Her coworkers are in on the plan and are to take her out for a fun time.
And that’s where the book starts to go wrong for me. The friends take her to a bar. They have a few men set to meet with them so she can have a date for the first evening. This just doesn’t fit with a Christian romance. The scenario made me uncomfortable. Tim, a man who knew her husband shows an interest in her. She is uncomfortable and wants to go home but does settle into the motel room, alone, for the evening. Two worlds seem to infiltrate the story line leaving me wondering where Clare stands most of the time. Her coworkers, friends and Tim are obviously non-Christians and Drew is a Christian.
There are several things that strike me the wrong way including an impromptu marriage counseling session that Drew initiates with her sister and brother-in-law in Clare’s home. He has Clare sit in on the session so she can learn about how marriage should be. I can’t imagine a minister or counselor bringing a third party into the situation because he is romantically interested in her and this will help teach her about marriage. Drew mentions the Pastor’s wife and several elderly people in the church are gossips. The intimation that the Pastor’s wife would spread private conversations or actions bothered me terribly. When Clare or Drew interacts with the woman and volunteers from church there is nothing to back this up. The situation with Tim could have ended in a better way too. Without giving away part of the storyline, a fund that was donated after the death of Clare’s husband could have been worked in differently.
I wish that I could have seen a growing change in Clare as she saw her house transformed and her family embraced by caring people from the church. It would have been nice to see her become stronger and able to give God the glory through an increased growth in faith. She basically remained unchanged throughout the story.
I looked forward to reading the book and feel badly that it just doesn’t work for me. A lot of work has obviously been put into the manuscript. It has a great deal of potential. I’d love to see the writer edit the book. It could be a really beautiful story of letting go of intense grief and moving forward into a happier future.