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Monday, January 7, 2013

Book Reviews: A ROOM OF MY OWN, 21 STORIES OF GRATITUDE, and STEALING JENNY


A ROOM OF MY OWN by Ann Tatlock is a very good book. It took me awhile to see where Mrs. Tatlock was going with this, mainly because her style is so complete. There are many round characters, especially the narrator Virginia (a young teen girl), her mother, and father. Also well developed are Virginia’s best friend Charlotte and her mother.

The story takes place during the Great Depression and includes Virginia’s family sharing their home with another family because the father was out of work. There’s a “hobo” town made up of people without work or means. There’s also a strike, and many tidbits about life as it was then. Virginia’s father is a doctor, and he’s a doctor because “it makes him happy.” He’s the kind of doctor you would want to be your doctor.

This is a story of necessity and sacrifice, lemonade, and childish fun. It’s also a coming-of-age story for both Virginia and Charlotte. It has a little bit of everything in a setting I was somewhat familiar with from my own Granddad’s stories. I found it fascinating.

This is not a pacey page-turner. It is rather a thoughtful and sensitive, very well researched window into another time and place—not so removed from many of us over 50.

In the end, I loved it, and I think you will too. (If you think it’s plodding at first, hang in there! You’ll be glad you did. There’s a reason for every sentence in this book.)

A ROOM OF MY OWN is about values, true Christianity, and growing. Five stars.


21 STORIES OF GRATITUDE by Shelley Hitz is a collection of stories by a variety of writers, both men and women, with a good variety of experiences to share. They include single moms, medical professionals, disabled people, drug addicts . . . a lot of different perspectives on the same theme, being thankful. At the end of the book, there’s a section about Shelley Hitz’ own story and her “21-Day Gratitude Challenge,” along with brief reviews of her other books.

I enjoyed reading the stories. They were a blessing. (Who can’t be blessed by how thankfulness to God changes a life?) I think the strength of the book is in these genuine testimonies of grace. The weakness, for me, was the self-promos at the end of the book. It would have been sufficient to have listed the other resources and not use book space for reviews. (My opinion.) But, all in all, a nice book of blessings in bite-sized units. I think you will enjoy them, too.


STEALING JENNY by Ellen Gable is a suspense novel. Jenny is the mother of five fun children and she’s expecting her sixth child. She has had several miscarriages, so this child is extra special. Jenny and her husband Tom are practicing Roman Catholics. They have a good marriage and are happy to have a large family.

When Jenny is in her 9th month of pregnancy, she’s kidnapped. The rest of the book is about what happens to Jenny and what happens to her family, including the baby they all want so much.

The strength of this novel is in its commitment to family and its realism. The author’s anti-abortion, family friendly voice comes through loud and clear. Her understanding of those who can’t have children also comes through, as well as her position on adoption. Mrs. Gable’s values are my own. I believe in the sanctity of life from conception on, the value of family, the right of anyone who desires it to have a large family, and in the ministry of adoption. I believe the sexual relationship is only right in marriage, which is also in this book.

For me, it was my first time reading Mrs. Gable’s work, my first exposure to a somewhat evangelical Catholic viewpoint. It was, frankly, difficult for me to read about people calling out to “Mary, Jesus, and Joseph” and to the saints in prayer. It was hard to witness these very decent, lovely people saying the rosary prayers instead of talking to God in a personal way. The missing element is the personal relationship with Jesus Christ, trusting in Him alone for salvation. (Interestingly enough, one of the minor characters in the book seems to be a genuine born again believer.) I found it sad that Jenny and Tom trusted in their works, the saints, and the Church, instead of in Christ’s finished work on the cross.

Otherwise, it’s a good read. It’s certainly exciting, and I liked the book. I appreciate good moral values in anyone, and I was glad for the positive moral messages here.

4 comments:

  1. Thank you. I'll have to add these to my reading wish list :)

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    1. I think you'll enjoy them. God bless!

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  2. I read something of Tatlock's a few years ago, and there was something I didn't like about it, but I can't remember what it was. That was before blogging days, so I can't revisit my thoughts. :-) But when that same book came up as free for Kindle apps, I got it to read again and reevaluate. This one sounds interesting as well.

    I appreciate the way you handled the Catholic aspect of the last book. I have some dear sweet Catholic blog friends who are very sincere and even believe that Jesus's death on the cross was for them and their sins, yet still fall into some of the unbiblical practices of the church like praying to Mary and the saints and some of the rituals of the church. That they might know the true grace of trusting in and communing with the One who died to save them.

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