Published by Barbour Publishing on 1 December 2012
Genres: Christian Romance, Contemporary
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Summary from Goodreads:
After her husband’s sudden death, Mennonite Rachel Kaufman has promised her son, Justin, a fresh start. Will Florida be the balm to heal their gaping wounds? Dr. Ben Booker stopped trusting God when his niece became ill. Is Rachel just what the Great Physician ordered to restore Ben’s faith? As thirteen-year-old Justin struggles in his new environs, to what lengths will he go to reestablish a sense of control over his life? When a jealous coworker begins spreading malicious gossip, Rachel’s career is jeopardized. Is her faith enough to see her through?
*I received a free ARC of A Mother’s Promise from Barbour Publishing via Netgalley in exchange of an honest review*
Rachel Kaufmann is part of the old order Mennonites, and after her husband’s death life is very difficult both for her and her son Justin, as her brother-in-law Luke is very strict, and thinks he should order both her and her son around now that James is no longer there to take care of them.
After a couple of years of strain living on the farm with Luke and his family as well as with her parents-in-law, Rachel accepts a job offer as a spiritual councilor at a hospital in Florida on her college-friend’s recommendation.
It is clear as soon as Rachel arrives that she will fit right in, however the hospital administrator, Darcy, shows herself to be a very jealous woman.
The story is very compelling, in that Rachel has to make decisions on her own probably for the first time in her life, and Justin is just entering adolescence at 12, and he is confused about how things work outside of the Mennonite society he’s used to living in. The characters are well written, even if I would have liked them to be even more profound than they were.
The grief, struggles with faith, learning to get to know new people, starting a new life all is believable, and the book is actually never preachy. The faith is rather elegantly described, and I never felt like I was being force-fed the bible. I don’t usually read Christian romance at all, this is my second or third ever, and I thought it was well done, and I know that the descriptions of the Mennonites are accurate; this makes the book good in my eyes, because I think that it is very important to understand differences in religion – and seeing the differences makes it easier to see what is similar as well.
Rachel is incredibly brave, leaving the place she grew up, and where she lived with her husband to start fresh, with only Justin and one friend is courageous. And the way she has to deal with Darcy’s petty ways shows that she is strong. I think that it would be very nice to have a book about Darcy and a certain someone, even if I don’t particularly like Darcy in this book, I think I could like her if I got to know her a little better.
Rachel’s relationship with Ben, the doctor, is unfolding slowly, from quiet admiration to friendship to something that could be much more. The fact that they show each other a mutual respect and are friendly from very early on in the story makes their relationship that much more real, and even if they are different in many ways, in the fundamental, important aspects of their lives and beliefs, they are quite similar. What is also interesting in my opinion is that Rachel is always doing her best to make sure Justin has everything he needs, but at the same time, to make sure she can support the two of them financially, she has to take some classes to make sure she can keep her job. This, along with the move, makes Justin feel very alone, and he falls in with the wrong crowd.
When Rachel finally listens to her heart – and to Justin – they go on an amazing trip tou South America to help out in a village after an earth-quake. It was what they needed to get closer again, and to be able to understand each other. Justin was able to trust his mother fully once more, and Rachel realized that helping people, wherever they might be, is what is most important to her.
There are some small inconsistencies in the descriptions, for example The rest of the carpeted room had been furnished with three rows of chairs – four chairs per row to each side of a center aisle. […] The floor was tile interrupted by two circles of bright-colored square cushions
The descriptions of Darcy’s and Ben’s fathers are very similar as well, and it is too bad that the description of an authoritative, tyrannical father had to be ‘taking credit for other’s achievements’ in both cases.
All in all this was a nice read, and if you want to read something that talks about faith, without being preachy, and a new beginning with all that entails, I think you should give this a try.