Monday, February 27, 2012

Forever After by Deborah Raney

Forever After by Deborah Raney. Howard Books, 2011. 393p. Series: Hanover Falls, #2 (9781416599937)

A fun read on a rainy Sunday afternoon. I had picked this up because I thought the first book in the series had been made into a movie and I enjoyed the movie. Well now that I’m writing this I can’t remember the movie’s name nor can I find any record of it on the author’s website.

But it was a fun movie – about a fireman that fell in love with a girl writing a cookbook based on dishes the men in his fire station cooked. I think he rescued her from a fire before any of that happened. If anyone can remember which movie that is, I’d be most obliged if you’d tell me. (It’s at the church library.)  

Anyway, back to the book. Forever After is about a fireman recovering from a tragic homeless shelter fire that affected many people in Hanover Falls. Lucas Vermontez had always wanted to be a firefighter just like his dad and had achieved that goal. But the shelter fire left him severely wounded – emotionally and physically.

A year later he still has a limp and uses a cane - which is a huge improvement to the wheelchair and walker he had been using a few months ago. But he is frustrated by his limitations and worries he’ll never be able to return to the job he loves.

Jenna Morgan lost her fireman husband, Zach, who was also Lucas' best friend, in that fire and has spent the past year trying to continue with life and properly mourn her husband. But she’s starting to realize that they had been relying too much on his parent’s money and had always lived beyond their means.

She is forced to sell her home and rely on others for housing. Through that and her growing friendship with Lucas she begins to face her past and figure out who she is and wants to be. Not an easy task for someone who has spent years being someone that others wanted her to be.

I liked how the story would switch from Lucas’ to Jenna’s point of view. In different ways they are each haunted by the past so the alternating point of view was a good way to get to know both characters and understand where they were coming from.

At first I wasn’t quite sure why this was “Christian fiction” since no one seemed to have a very strong faith in God or even any faith at all. But right around the time I really started to wonder Lucas started to pray more and openly acknowledge that he wouldn’t have gotten through his depression without God’s help.

His mom is a strong believer and I love the contrast between the Vermontez family and the Morgans (Jenna’s in-laws). One is welcoming, loving, and caring, the other proper and controlling. Jenna notices and slowly starts to question where the Vermontez family gets their peace and love.

She learns first hand that God really does listen to prayers. An important lesson that many people, many Christians, don’t quite grasp. Not only does he listen but he also answers; just maybe not in the way we were thinking of. But whether His answer is “yes, I’d love to do that for you”, “no, if you knew what I knew you wouldn’t ask that”, “wait, the timing is just not right yet”, or “I’ve got a better plan” – He still listens.

One thing I didn’t like though was that Lucas continued to be attracted to and pursue Jenna even though he knew she didn’t share his belief in God. Missionary dating is not a good idea. And while it “worked out” in the story it isn’t something that ought to be promoted.  

Go read it! Wake County; Greene County; Find it at a library near you; Buy it from CBD (ebook also available)   

Disclosure: I borrowed this book from my church library.

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