Thursday, September 1, 2011

Book Review: The Harvest of Grace

I was really excited when I saw that I had the opportunity to receive this book and review it for free!  Cindy Woodsmall jumped into my mental Top Ten List of Christian Fiction authors when I read her novel When the Heart Cries.  I was also excited because I had already read the first book of this series, Hope of Refuge, but had not been able to read either of the sequels.  I do not like reading books out of order (it's a little OCD tendency of mine), so I borrowed the second book of the Ada's House series, The Bridge of Peace, from the library and enjoyed reading it.

Grace - unmerited favor, undeserved gift.  This book is a beautiful picture of Grace, both from God towards mankind and from one person to another.  This story takes us through the stages of reconciliation between three different sets of family members, all of whom had "reasons" to be angry towards the other person.  Through the storyline, we experience the heartache and turmoil, the humbled spirit, and, finally, the act of extending Grace to the one who had wronged them.

The main characters in The Harvest of Grace are Sylvia and Aaron.  Sylvia experiences the heartache of betrayal on both the receiving and giving ends within her family, causing her to leave town and work for Aaron's family on their dairy farm.  Aaron, a recovering alcoholic, has come home to try to convince his parents to sell their farm and live with him in a store he just bought.  There is much tension and strife between him and his father due to unresolved conflict.  Cara, the main character from Hope of Refuge, faced struggles of her own in trying to do everything necessary to please the church elders so that she could join the Amish church, but the sudden appearance of her long-absent father (also a recovering alcoholic) caused her to feel long-buried anger and resentment, which is looked down on by the Amish faith.

One thing I appreciate about Cindy Woodsmall's writings is that she doesn't just tell a story; she lets us see the different layers and complexities of people's lives and characters.  It's like taking a look at the underside of a piece of embroidery work and seeing the different colored strings woven and knotted and pieced together.  The front side may not always be a beautiful picture, and one cannot always see the hidden strands that make up a person's life, whether it be from previous experiences or conscious yet regrettable decisions.  The wonderful part of this story, which in some ways was not emphasized enough, is that each person allowed God to do a work in his or her life which brought peace and reconciliation to others' lives.

Even though each book could probably be read as stand-alone volumes, I think reading the whole series gives the reader a bigger picture of each person's individual story.  I loved how each book focused on several characters and their individual struggles.  Each subsequent book lets you see the "rest of the story," and, finally, at the end, you get to enjoy them each join their lives with their beloved.

Reviews on Blogging for Books can be reviewed and ranked by others.  I would love it if you would visit my review on the Blogging for Books site and rank my review.  Upon ranking my review, you will be entered in a drawing to win your own copy of this book!  Don't worry, you won't hurt my feelings if you give me a bad review.  I'd rather have an honest bad review than a dishonest good review.  "Faithful are the wounds of a friend: but the kisses of an enemy deceitful." (Proverbs 27:6)

Here is the link for my review:  The Harvest of Grace

FTC Disclaimer:  I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.”  I was not required to provide a positive review.  All opinions expressed are my own.
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