Note To Self by Anna Bell is the most charming contemporary novel that will swell your heart and make you smile.
The premise is a wonderful idea – a thirty five year old character receives emails from her seventeen year old self. They are encouraging her to grab life and step out of her comfort zone. “Real living happens when you step outside it [your comfort zone] Remember, your comfort zone does not have a brick wall built around it.”
Too often in life we settle. Routine takes over and we lose sight of who we really are. Life is for living. If we are not careful, it will pass us by and we will be left with regrets. The novel shows what can happen when we decide to live and to have fun.
It is also a study in guilt and grief. The past cannot be altered. Guilt will always weigh us down. Grief threatens to drown a character. It never goes away. We just have to learn to live with it. I loved the idea of a memory jar.
With Forgiveness And Love
Morning By Morning by Jennifer Rodewald is a charming contemporary Christian novel. It is the eighth book in the Murphy Brothers series but can be read as a stand-alone.
The book deals with the themes of loss, adjustment and new beginnings. We see two broken families, grieving what has gone before – one family lost a mother to cancer, the other had a philandering husband. Children and spouses are hurting. They need to press into God and trust His faithfulness to see them through.
In the darkness of life, it is easy to think that God has abandoned us. “God is still with my family, isn’t He?” God walks with us in the dark. “Don’t lose eyes that look for God’s grace in the darkness.”. His grace is sufficient for my weakness. Great is His faithfulness.
God wants us to be truthful with Him. We do not need to pretend we are ok when we are not. He wants our honesty and our hearts. “I think God would rather hear my questions… than have me retreat into an angry silence.” We need to keep communication open.
Life throws us challenges and hard times. We cannot change that but “You can choose how to respond in life.” We can respond in bitterness or love. Jesus asks us to live a life of love.
The Sycamore Stand Off by Stacey Weeks is a contemporary Christian novel with a strong godly message.
The story surrounds an ancient sycamore which is well-rooted and has withstood all that the elements have thrown it over the years. We can see parallels in our lives. We need to be deeply rooted in God in order to withstand the elements of life. When we know whose we are, we will be able to withstand all that life throws at us.
We all have a past. We need to learn from our pasts as we move into our futures. Our pasts are not meant to drag us down. Our faults and failures need to be given to God who wants us to live in freedom and not burdened down.
Alone we are powerless. Together we are stronger. The tale shows a community that pulls together can defeat those who seek to harm us. Sometimes we erect walls to keep us safe but the reality is that we become isolated. We need to demolish the walls and let others in.
‘Real’ Life Not Sugar Coated
These Streets by Luan Goldie is a fascinating look at contemporary life in east London.
The reader is introduced to two families – a single mum with two teens and an elderly father nearby, and a single dad separated from his six year old daughter. All the characters are unique, warm and welcoming. Luan Goldie gives us glimpses into their lives as we witness that it is not money that makes us happy but love and friendship. Some of the richest people are materially poor but with huge hearts.
We witness how our school days form the adults we become. They leave a lasting impression on our lives, for better or for worse. Bad experiences still have the power to hurt twenty years down the line.
There is no such thing as a ‘typical’ family. Families are unique in their make-up and their functioning.
We see a mother’s pride for her children as she puts their needs first. It is sacrificial love in action. Sometimes the truth is hidden in order to protect. We also see the children trying to sort lives to make it easier for their mum. They are a lovely, caring family unit.