Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tender Grace by Jackina Stark

If you love stories that are fully character driven, taking their time getting to the end and that are filled with rich detail that makes the journey enjoyable, then you'll fall in love with Jackina Stark--just like I have.

"Tender Grace" begins as a painful reading experience. The story begins after Audrey Eaton's beloved husband Tom has passed away suddenly, leaving her feeling empty and at a loss. Her life is one endless heartbeat of pain.

After eighteen months of not wanting to go on for herself, Audrey one day decides enough is enough. Packed and with Tom's Bible, a road atlas, and no idea of where she's headed. Audrey sets out to find a place of no more pain and to seek God--and herself.

Along her journey we meet delightful characters, some who help Audrey along the way, and others who are just there for a moment's delight--what we come to call "tender graces". Like the little fireball in the hotel pool, more mature than her years, but still precocious enough to get the blood pumping again in Audrey's wounded heart.

Then there are moments from the past that come calling--leaving Audrey to decide whether to open the door to possibilities or to shut it and lock it once and for all. Chances to serve come her way as well, illustrating that when we are hurting the most sometimes helping the least brings great healing.

As Audrey travels and stores up memories she only wishes Tom was there to share, she also reads her way through the Gospel of John. How God meets her there every day is absolutely gorgeous, and worth the reading of the story.

Jackina's writing reminds me a bit of Lisa Samson's--rich, multi-layered and leaving you with a satisfied sigh at the end...but lingering in your mind for days to come. Do not miss this new author to be watched.

I'm looking forward to seeing what comes next from Jackina (rhymes with China), and I'm certain you will be as well. I'm giving "Tender Grace" five out of five bookmarks, with a box of tissues as a charm--I needed a few, so I'm guessing you might need some, too.

Happy Reading!


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