Lead Me Home

Lead Me Home

Author: Amy K. Sorrels

Publisher: Tyndale

Release Date: May 3, 2015

Reviewer: Jen Roman

Lead Me Home tells the story of two very different people in Sycamore facing some similar and real struggles.  Reverend James Horton has just been told that because of unsurmountable financial debt, his small Midwestern church will be closing.  His congregation has dwindled to just a dozen or so regulars anyway, and he feels that he is just going through the motions of being a pastor.  He is dealing with the recent sudden death of his wife, Molly, and trying to keep his teen daughter Shelby from going wayward as she tries to deal with losing her mother.  He feels responsible for the closing of the church and blames himself for the congregation’s decline; he noticed people leaving for the megachurch down the road but did nothing to bring them back into his church.

Just down the road, Noble Burden has his own issues.  While he is glad that his abusive, alcoholic father has left the family, he is now responsible for running the family dairy farm.  His loyal older brother, Eustace, is good for providing muscle to help, but he has some kind of undiagnosed disorder that prevents him from really taking charge of life on the farm.  Just as Noble thinks he is getting caught up on all the chores and the repairs, something else puts him behind.

The plot of Lead Me Home is not original, but the characters and the overall message make it a worthwhile read.  James is a pastor, yet he is also portrayed as a real person with his own flaws and struggles.  He believes that, as many people do, a church leader is a strong person who solves all problems and who makes everything right.  In this case, he ends up losing the church due to modern challenges.  Noble wants to be a country singer and is given the opportunity to record in Nashville; the signing contract alone is more money than he’s ever seen, and the agents promise a new home and more services to help Eustace.  With so much on the line, he doesn’t know what to do, yet he knows he has to stay true to himself.  When he connects more with a custodian at the studio than he does with the people who want to make him famous, he has some serious thinking and praying to do.

The title is perfect for this book because both characters, as well as a few others, use this time of challenge as their way to find their paths in life.  Whether it be a career, a family matter, or a literal place to call home, the characters draw on their strength and their faith to find their true meaning of home.  Along the way, they make their community part of their lives and demonstrate grace to their neighbors.

Lead Me Home contains mild profanity and brief mention of domestic abuse, but nothing too graphic.  It is well-written with developed characters that are easy to like.  It focuses on accepting grace in one’s life and extending it to others.  I recommend this book for mature teens and adults.  I enjoyed reading about the daily spiritual and physical struggles of the characters, and I am sure others will as well.

Room For Hope

Room for hopeAuthor: Kim Vogel Sawyer

Publisher: Water Brook Press

Release Date: February 16, 2016

Guest Reviewer: Jen Roman

Neva Shilling experiences the worst betrayal she could imagine: her traveling salesman husband, Warren, has created a separate life complete with wife and children in another town where he does business.  Neva finds out about it while waiting for his return one night, but instead of Warren, the sheriff appears with a wagonful of furniture and Warren’s three small children.   He and his other wife died of botulism, but he before doing so, Warren asked that Neva care for the children.

Now Neva has to explain to her own children not only that their father has died, but that she is caring for three orphans that he wanted to take in; she spares them the details of her husband’s deception at first so that her twins, Bud and Belle, don’t think less of their father.  Word gets out that Warren has passed, and Arthur Randall, the owner of the local emporium, has his sights set on obtaining Neva’s mercantile.  With all of her troubles, he thinks she will be an easy target as long as he acts nicely to her.  As he keeps up the pretense of being Neva’s friend, he actually becomes one.  Meanwhile, Jesse Caudell,the sheriff who delivered Warren’s illegitimate children to Neva, has been offered a sheriff position in Neva’s town.  While there, he befriends Neva and helps her children through this difficult time.  He also has to face several feelings toward his own family and make things right with the parents who adopted and raised him.

The topic of this book is interesting and provides a unique perspective into the mess and destruction that unfaithfulness brings into people’s lives.  While Neva is understandably upset about her husband’s second family, she has to hide those feelings for the benefit of her children.  On top of that, she somehow has to care for three small children that remind her every day of what her husband did to her.  She also feels guilt; she cannot have any more children, and she, in a way, blames herself for his running to another woman to have more children.  Finally, when all of the children find out the truth, she has to explain to them in a manner that makes them not necessarily like what happened, but accept it.  She relies on her faith and on the compassion of a few close friends to create a new life for herself that includes five children but no husband in a manner that shows dignity and inner strength.

Room for Hope does not contain anything that would be objectionable; it does not contain profanity, sexual situations, or violence other than a couple of schoolyard fights.  I highly recommend this book to people who like to read about the early 1900s in America or to those who want to read and learn about a person overcoming betrayal to live a life of grace and charity.  At just over 300 pages, the book looks a bit daunting, but it is a quick read due to its charm and vibrant storyline.