Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Sweet By and By - Sara Evans & Rachel Hauck



It's not often you run across such a well-written, "heart-hitting" story. Bravo, Sara and Rachel. Let's begin with the back cover copy.

Here's the summary:

A redemptive story from multi-platinum recording artist Sara Evans, cowritten with Rachel Hauck.

Jade Fitzgerald left the pain of her past in the dust when she headed out for college a decade ago. Now she's thriving in her career and glowing in the light of Max Benson's love.

But then Jade's hippie mother, Beryl Hill, arrives in Whisper Hollow, Tennessee, for Jade's wedding along with Willow, her wild younger sister. Their arrival forces Jade to throw open the dark closets of her past--the insecurity of living with a restless, wandering mother, the silence of her absent father, and the heart-ripping pain of first-love's rejection.

Turns out Beryl has a secret of her own. She needs reconciliation with her oldest daughter before illness takes her life. In the final days leading to the wedding, Jade meets the One who shows her that the past has no hold on her future. With a little grace, they'll meet in the middle, maybe even before that sweet by and by.

And now my review:

The prose pulled me into this touching and meaningful tale. Chockfull of universal themes, it’s hard to put down. Jade’s relationships are central the story, and readers will likely see their own relationships mirrored there. Jade’s rapport with her mother is strained. Jade raised her sister and resents her mother for her absence in their younger years. Jade’s fiancĂ© wants to leave the past behind, but naively so. What of the truths about each other that will affect their future together? They’ll have to delve into their yesterdays in order to begin their tomorrows.

Jade struggles to correctly frame her past. She learns how to be honest about her role in her own life, where she influenced the relationships and decisions. I could relate with some of Jade’s trials. As I read, I questioned my own position on my past. Jade can’t move on until she 1) correctly perceives the incidents of her past, 2) experiences forgiveness and 3) is healed. There is a lot of wisdom in that list, a good combination with universal themes for this first novel by Sara Evans. I appreciated Rachel Hauck’s wordsmithing, right from the beginning. It’s a hard-earned skill by most writers. Especially making it look easy, like Rachel has done.

My favorite aspects, though, were the supernatural elements. The Jesus encounter was delicious, and expressed in an unapologetic way. I long to see more of that in Christian fiction.

Tackling some tough issues with the perfect blend of honesty and humor, The Sweet By and By is a powerful and poignant read.

Highly recommended.

2 comments:

Rachel Hauck said...

Hey Annette, thanks so much! I appreciate the review!! :)

Rachel

Annette M. Irby said...

You're welcome, Rachel! Are you and Sara writing another novel together?