Review

PUBLICATION DATE:  June 12, 2012

F

ans of Kim Cash Tate’s previous novels are sure to enjoy her latest offering, Hope Springs, and newcomers will be glad to have discovered this author.

The story takes place in Hope Springs, a fictional small town located in North Carolina, which just so happens to be my home state.  When two families from Hope Springs gather there for a funeral, we meet Stephanie, a newlywed living a charmed life in St. Louis, Janelle, a grieving widow from Maryland, and Becca, a successful Christian speaker.  These women return to Hope Springs to attend the funeral of a local pastor.

Stephanie, a relatively new Christian, is trying to determine how she can serve others.  She has been somewhat selfish in the past and is trying to turn over a new leaf.  She decides to stay in Hope Springs to care for her grandmother who is dealing with some serious health issues.  Will Stephanie be able to minister to her grandmother, or will she resort to doing what’s best for herself?

Meanwhile, Janelle is lonely living without her husband who has passed away.  When she realizes that she has nothing tying her to Maryland, she decides to stay in Hope Springs with her two children.  Like Stephanie, she offers to help care for Grandma Geri.  While in town, Janelle encounters Kory, a love interest from her past. Will she be able to find love again?

Becca is looking forward to growing her ministry, especially when she is named as a last-minute addition to a popular Christian conference.  Her plans are thrown for a loop when her husband announces that he wants to move back to Hope Springs, where he grew up.  Will Becca be forced to give up her dreams?

And will Grandma Geri’s secret turn everyone’s lives upside down?

This is a heart-warming story with likeable, realistic characters and a refreshingly fast pace that keeps you turning pages.  I especially enjoyed how Tate treats the issue of ministry and reveals that it’s possible to minister to others in a variety of different ways.

I also appreciate how the town of Hope Springs is portrayed. Tate conveys the feeling of a small, southern town perfectly, without condescension.  Likewise, racial issue are treated with sensitivity in a realistic way.

My only complaint is that certain storylines feel a bit rushed.  For example, when Stephanie takes a part-time job, we don’t get a good sense for her reasoning and we don’t find out what she learns from it.  I was also surprised at how quickly Becca’s husband reaches his decision, and it would have been nice to see more of his thought process. However, I understand that the story intentionally focuses on the female characters, which keeps it consistent.

I enjoyed finding out what happened to Stephanie, Janelle, and Becca and in terms of the supporting cast, I also liked getting to know Grandma Geri and Libby.

There is a large group of characters in Hope Springs, and it’s helpful that the author includes a family tree at the beginning of the book. If you feel overwhelmed at first trying to keep track of everyone, don’t give up. I promise that the characters are fleshed out as the story continues, and it becomes much easier to keep up.

If you’ve already read some of Tate’s other books, you’ll notice some familiar faces in this one. If not, you’ll be caught up in no time.