Sunday, July 20, 2008

Where Yesterday Lives

Title: Where Yesterday Lives
Author: Karen Kingsbury
Date Finished: July 18, 2008
Pages: 416

If you have never read a book by Karen Kingsbury before, I strongly suggest you pick one up. I was introduced to her books a couple years ago and every time I read one, the same thing happens... I cannot put it down. I started this book Friday evening and was so involved in the world of the Barrett family, that I did not want to leave, so I continued to read page after page until I finally finished somewhere around 2 a.m.

Before I go into all the reasons why this book touched me so, I would like to tell you a little about the author. Karen Kingsbury is a Christian writer and puts not only her love for the Lord in every book, but really tries to connect with readers on a personal level. This particular book was her first novel, and with it being so, happened to be somewhat autobiographical. For those of you who are hesitant to read any book that is labeled "Christian" for whatever reason, I would ask you to give this author a chance. Not once have I felt like her books were preaching at me, or trying to make me believe a certain religion is better than another. They are just stories that make you remember that God is good, and he does good things in our lives, and no matter how far we've wondered, or how big our problem may seem to us, they are never too big for Him in all his mighty power.

This story begins with John Barrett the father of Ellen, Jane, Megan, Amy and Aaron collapsing from a heart attack in the hallway. His last minutes are spent looking up at the pictures of his children hanging on the wall. As the family comes together to mourn the loss of their father, they are struggling to make it through one week together as all their past demons resurface. Throughout this one week, temptation, old sibling rivalries, and hidden secrets are keeping these five children and their mother from offering each other the kind of comfort and emotional support they are all looking for.

Ellen, the oldest daughter, is struggling to find the outlet to grieve that she desperately needs, only to be brushed off by her husband because he is busy with work and does not like funerals. As the week begins and she is constantly being snubbed and criticized by her next sister, Jane, she find herself turning to her first true love, whom she never really stopped loving. Having him drop everything to be by her side almost proves too much for Ellen to bear as she watches her family fall apart around her.

Jane, being the only sibling to have children of her own, is struggling with an emotionally scarring secret that she has never before shared with anyone. Right before she leaves to join her family for the funeral preparations, she finally tells her husband why it is that she does not feel anything about the death of her father. My heart breaks for Jane as she is constantly attacking Ellen, much to the other's dismay for what seems to be for no particular reason.

Megan, still living in the same town as her parents offers to let Ellen, Jane and her children stay with her. Trying to be the referee and keep the girls from each other's throats proves to be an emotionally draining task for Megan. She is just trying to abide by their mothers wishes that for one week, they act like a family who cares about each other.

Amy, the youngest girl, has always felt like she is being ignored and cutoff by the others, and does not go anywhere without her husband. As the story progresses, you see a transformation in Amy, as she starts to stand up for herself and show the others that she is an adult just like they are.

Aaron, being the only boy in the family has a rough time showing his emotions. Whenever he is confronted, Aaron become violent and then abruptly will disappear in his car.

As the funeral approached, their mother asks each of them to write a few words about their father for them to read at the ceremony. Ellen, being a writer has no problem with this, and takes the time to help some of the others who are struggling with what to say. The purpose is to share with everyone what their father meant to them, and their family. The ending to this book proved to be very emotional for me on several levels. As each of the children approach the podium to share their stories it becomes clear that each child saw their father in a different light. For each of them, he was the man they needed him to be. Whether that be a cheerleader, an ear to listen, a shoulder to cry on, or just a friend, John Barrett was that for each of his children, loving all of them equally in the way that was most important and meaningful for them.

Anyone who has ever lost a family member, or had a fight with a sibling will find someone in this book that they can relate to. It shows how wonderful the power of family can really be, and that in the end, you can always turn to your family for support, no matter how far away you've drifted over the years. There is something very special about the bonds of a family intertwined with the power of prayer.

1 comment:

Laura said...

I've never read anything by Karen Kingsbury, but I have heard of her through some friends. Since I come from a family of 6, I'm sure I can relate to some of the issues you've described. Great review! :)