“You lose sight of God, what’s the point? Who’re we doing it for?”
Jennifer Sienes brings a beautifully written, raw, honest, heart-breaking, emotionally and spiritually stirring tale of what happens to a family when everything is stripped away and nothing seems fixable. Told from Corey and Paul’s perspectives in first person present tense, the story unfolds as they individually reflect on their marriage of eighteen years, battle sins from the past, dodge landmines at work and home, and just try to hang on as they are thrown into a cyclone of events that eventually pulls the entire family into its path. Emotionally charged and filled with spiritual truths, the book will grab you from the first page and not let go until the epilogue.
Paul Shaffer is the head pastor of a large church and a natural-born leader but also inflexible and driven by a need to keep up appearances. Corey, his wife, has given up her dream of teaching to support the ministry but has lost herself in the process. Taylor, their daughter, is feisty and independent but her accident heralds the opening of Pandora’s Box which throws the entire family into turmoil. And there’s Michael who locks horns with his father on an hourly basis. Though incredibly complex, the family dynamics is portrayed so well that you will feel like you’re a part of the family and empathize with each of them. Corey and Paul’s love is your everyday love that has dulled a little through years of marriage but when it’s suddenly plunked in the fiery furnace of trials and tribulations, they must decide what their next steps are.
The author has tackled some pretty difficult topics like traumatic brain injury, personal life of a pastor and his family, hypocrisy and self-righteousness so prevalent in the church members, and what true repentance and forgiveness look like. The obstacles Taylor faces as she recovers from traumatic brain injury are very real and her triumphs are sweet because she has to work so hard for them. The pressures and expectations Paul and his family face are quite real. And the consequences of sin are real too, and heavily addressed throughout the story. But consequences are eclipsed by grace and mercy that are even more real and God pursues the main characters relentlessly because they struggle to grasp His grace and mercy. Redemption that God provides through the shattered pieces of their lives is indeed beautiful and soul-edifying.
If you enjoy well-written, inspirational contemporary women’s fiction, you will absolutely love this book. You will cry, you will hurt, you will grow, and you will fall in love with every member of the Shaffer family.