Hannah Ryan has the perfect life. Having married her childhood sweetheart, they now share a deep love and 2 beautiful girls, 15 and 13. Tom Ryan is a doctor and very involved husband and father. Their Christian faith has been intentionally passed onto their daughters all their lives. Each year Tom takes the girls camping as a last hurrah of summer right before school is about to start. This year Hannah didn't go with them. As she waits at home, their arrival time has come and gone, and she tries to take control over her thoughts over why they might be so late without a phone call. When the news comes that her oldest daughter and husband have been killed by a drunk driver, Hannah must try to pick up the pieces of her and surviving daughter's life. But she finds herself consumed with hate for the man who destroyed her family and she throws herself into work with MADD and with helping a lawyer bring a conviction of first degree murder against the man. Hoping for the peace that she has convinced herself will come with the conviction, her daughter's and her own grieving and suffering are pushed to the side to be dealt with later and her faith is thrown out in her anger. But it isn't until her husband's dying words find their way to her that she finally finds the peace she is searching for.
Karen Kingsbury has definitely dragged my emotions all over the board with this story. It is a story of love, loss and pain, grieving, anger and revenge, and forgiveness. In casting the main character as a Christian and putting her into the midst of horrible tragedy, a tragedy that could have been prevented, she is faced with what she really believes. Any one of us could face any number of tragedies that may be caused by another's carelessness or neglect here on earth and none of us knows how we would deal with such a thing unless we really go through. Do we choose to believe God even when it makes no sense to our minds? Or do we choose to hang on with everything we've got and believe He is good and in control? It's nice to think & say that we would react the way the Word tells us to with instant forgiveness and love. But Kingsbury gives us a character who is very real and relateable in her journey through a devastating time. At times I totally related to her and other times I wanted to shake her. Hannah's story is one that shows how choices we make and warning signals we ignore can have long term consequences on ourselves and those we love. It also shows how God's mercy and grace can reach even through the deepest of pain and help us to do what He calls us to do. I could not put this book down once I started it.