Sunday, June 24, 2012

A Visit to a Small Town -- Hope Springs

Book Description

In a small Southern community where everyone is holding tight to something, the biggest challenge may be learning to let go.

Hope Springs, North Carolina, is the epitome of small town life—a place filled with quiet streets where families have been friends for generations, a place where there’s not a lot of change. Until three women suddenly find themselves planted there for a season.

Janelle Evans hasn’t gone back to Hope Springs for family reunions since losing her husband. But when she arrives for Christmas and learns that her grandmother is gravely ill, she decides to extend the stay. It isn’t long before she runs into her first love, and feelings that have been dormant for more than a decade are reawakened. And when Janelle proposes a Bible study a the local diner--and invites both African American and Caucasian women she has met--the group quickly forms a spiritual bond . . . and inadvertently adds to underlying tension in the community.

Becca Anderson is finally on the trajectory she’s longed for. Having been in the ministry trenches for years, she’s been recruited as the newest speaker of a large Christian women’s conference. But her husband feels called to become the pastor of his late father’s church in Hope Springs. Will small town living affect her big ministry dreams?

And Stephanie London has the ideal life—married to a doctor in St. Louis with absolutely nothing she has to do. When her cousin Janelle volunteers to stay in Hope Springs and care for their grandmother, she feels strangely compelled to do the same. It’s a decision that will forever change her.

As these women come together, facing disappointments both public and private, they soon recognize that healing is needed in their hearts, their families, and their churches that have long been divided along racial lines. God's plan for them in Hope Springs—and for Hope Springs itself—is bigger than they ever imagined.

My Thoughts

Kim Cash Tate has woven together a compelling story of the realities of life.  As Janelle and Stephanie temporarily relocate to Hope Springs to care for their Grandmother Geri, they interact closely with their cousin Libby and many other friends and family.  Challenges from their present and their past cause them to look deeply at where they are in life, what lessons God has for each of them to learn, and how they will grow through this season.  With no conscious intentions of doing so, they find themselves involved in a process of working to ease racial differences and begin a process of healing in the small town . . . and in their own family. 

Kim gives genuine depth to her characters, showing them with struggles and questions that are a part of real life.  Most of the characters appear to be Godly people, but rather than being presented as some sort of "super-Christians," they are forced to deal with down-to-earth loss, hurt, and uncertainty.

The only criticism I would offer about Hope Springs is the number of characters and complexities of their relationships.  I had some trouble keeping up with who was who and how they all fit together.  Thankfully, there is a family tree in the beginning of the book to help sort that out.  All in all, this was a very enjoyable story that kept me well engaged in the lives of the characters.  And the end of the story definitely leaves unanswered questions that hopefully lead to another book.

This book was provided free from the BookSneeze blogger program for my honest review.

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