Monday, January 3, 2011

Rachel's Contrition by Michelle Buckman

I have to warn you, straight out: reading a novel by Michelle Buckman can be hazardous to your sleep, your emotional control, and cause stock to rise in the tissue industry. She writes with passion and her characters step off the page and into your memory...regardless of the genre or the subject matter.

I discovered Michelle's writing with her young adult novels. "Maggie Come Lately" was one of the first I reviewed on my first website. Her second novel, "My Beautiful Disaster", was also reviewed. It's special to me because it was my first ever recommendation quoted on the cover (or inside the book for that matter--what a rush!).

So when I heard about her newest work, "Rachel's Contrition", I was eager to see where Michelle was headed with her writing. I picked it up last night just before bed...was that ever a mistake! Finishing it in the wee hours kept it in my dreams...but in a good way.

Rachel Winters is lost. She has lost her memories of the tragedy that tore her family apart. She has lost her family, her social standing, her home...she has lost herself.

Living in a borrowed pool house apartment, she attempts to put the pieces of her life back together on her own, but fails miserably every time. Then another tragedy strikes, again close to home. Will this be the one that finally pushes her over the brink?

Enter Lilly, a young girl who reminds Rachel of herself when she was younger. Lilly is obviously troubled, and obviously hiding something. Finding nothing else worth living for, helping Lilly gives Rachel new purpose.

So does the little prayer card Rachel stumbles across one day. A prayer card with the visage of St. Therese of Lisieux. Together, the little nun's story and unraveling the truth behind Lilly's behavior...and Rachel finds her way...but to where?

I loved the way the message of Jesus and His forgiveness is woven through this story. I loved the way Michelle dropped hints of the tragedy that befell Rachel. I loved the way I fell in love with the entire Winters family. I even loved troubled, mischievous, secretive Lilly.

This story is powerful. Yes, the Catholic faith plays a part in the telling, but that just adds a richness I didn't expect. Watching Rachel find her way through the darkness to the light helped me with some of my own darkness that I'm battling.

Michelle still has a knack for drawing the tears from my soul and watering my faith with her words. She is an authored to be treasured--she is a Karen Kingsbury kind of be warned!

I'm giving "Rachel's Contrition" five out of five bookmarks, with a piggy hand puppet as a charm. I'm grateful to Michelle and Chisel & Cross Books for sending me a copy of "Rachel's Contrition". Find this book at your favorite bookstore, online, and at the website.

Happy Reading!



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