Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Chasing Hope by Kathryn Cushman

A complimentary review copy was provided to me.
Chasing Hope

A Touching Story of Two Unlikely Friends.
The Power of Trust.
The Struggle of Pain.
And How, Sometimes, Following God Can Lead You to the Most Unexpected Places.

A talented runner determined to make the Olympics, Sabrina Rice had her dreams shattered by a devastating diagnosis. One forfeited scholarship and several years later, she's forged a new vision for her future that has nothing to do with running, which she's buried deep, intent on forgetting...

Until the day she sees Brandy Philip running across the college campus, easily outpacing security. Sabrina immediately recognizes world class potential, and it's all the more painful that it belongs to a troublemaking teen. When a chance encounter brings the two young women together, Sabrina realizes she's Brandy's best hope to salvage a life about to spiral out of control forever.

I recently had the chance to read Chasing Hope by Kathryn Cushman. I was really drawn into the character of Sabrina Rice...after watching Chariots of Fire with her mom, she had set her dreams on being an Olympic runner and using that as a springboard to do mission work. As we get to know Sabrina, we learn that her dreams were crushed when she was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis and that she abandoned the entirety of dream, deciding instead to go into PR and put memories of running and thoughts of missionary work behind her. She left the school that she started and is now living with her grandma while attending a new school and working a job on campus, all while doing her best to maintain perfect grades. She is a busy young woman and very focused on school and the future.

Brandy is the granddaughter of one of her grandma's friends. She brings her to dinner one night, hoping that Sabrina can help her out. Brandy's first impression of Sabrina leaves her not wanting to even give her a chance. Sabrina's Grandma convinces her to at least try to help her out, so she reluctantly does. As Brandy gets to know and trust Sabrina, she starts to see her in a new light. Working with Brandy, allows Sabrina to finally reflect on the impact that the RA has made on her life and to revisit what is important to her and what her true aspirations might be. With time, Sabrina and Brandy not only come to learn more about each other but also themselves and they start to develop a true friendship. Brandy realizes that Sabrina believes in her and uses that motivation to keep going - so as not to disappoint and in the process, achieves her own goals.

Kathryn did a great job of weaving in Sabrina's prior reflections on the Children of Israel from her childhood when her dreams were still intact. As Sabrina begins to reflect on where she is now and how her life has changed and what direction is right for her future, she revisits her earlier writings and perspectives and these help her to reflect on what she once thought was her calling and whether her illness had taken it away or only changed it.

I enjoyed reading through a couple of interviews with the author about the book. Through this, I came to learn that this story was in part based on her own daughter's experience of being diagnosed with a chronic illness at a young age. I also learned that she is not a runner, but did train for and run a 5K as part of her research. I really liked the idea that she was willing to do the research necessary to give the story a real perspective from what it took to train and run. She also reflected on the parallel that she was drawing with the Children of Israel and how just because something is God's calling doesn't mean it will be easy.

This was the first book that I have read by Kathryn Cushman, but after reading Chasing Hope, I would be interested in reading more of her books. She has one called Almost Amish, which with my enjoyment of Amish fiction, sounds like a great next book for me. If you are looking for a story of hope and friendship, I think this is a great book to consider.

Have you read any of her books? What is your favorite?

No compensation was received for this review. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family. A complimentary review copy was provided to me.