Saturday, February 15, 2014

Hopeful by Shelley Shepard Gray

A complimentary review copy was provided to me.
I love a nice straight-forward, easy to read story, filled with characters that you can't help but root for. That is exactly what I found when I read Helpful by Shelley Shepard Gray. It is fun to get to know the characters that Shelley Shepard Gray develops in Helpful. As you learn more about them and their lives, it is hard not to feel connected to them. The story moves easily between characters and their stories and progresses nicely. (As a busy mom, I love a book that I can sit down and read easily over the course of a couple of days, and that if need be, can put down and pick up several times over the course of that time.)

Hopeful is set in Sugarcreek, Ohio - which I think is fun, because it is an actual community and one that I have visited. I have been there a few times - not enough to recognize any landmarks from the storyline, but I still felt connected knowing I had been there.

The story could have been set almost anywhere, with it's universal theme. A classic love triangle/girl next door tale where girl loves boy and that boy loves another girl and relies on the first girl as a friend for advice and support in his pursuit. It is something that I am sure many of us have seen or experienced in our lives.

It was nice to read a book about the Amish that was about the story's characters and what was going on in their lives. It wasn't about them being Amish and it wasn't full of Englisher influence or support. Sure there was an occasional non-Amish that appeared in the story, but they weren't really part of the storyline but rather mostly were there because of the reality of where the Amish live and work.

This was the first book that I read by Gray, but since it is the first book in the series, and I love to find familiar characters in the story or background of future books, I look forward to reading the future books in the series.

About the book:
Return to Sugarcreek, Book One

In the Amish town of Sugarcreek, love comes in many forms. But will it come at all for Miriam?

Miriam Zehr has worked at the Sugarcreek Inn longer than she cares to admit. The restaurant is a favorite of town residents as well as the many tourists who come to taste the famous Amish fare. Though she always tries to have a smile for every customer, deep down Miriam knows something's missing: a family of her own.

Miriam has never felt particularly beautiful, especially because she's always been a bit heavier than other girls her age. When Junior, the man she's pined for all her life, suddenly seeks her out, she's thrilled to be noticed . . . until she realizes he's only asking her to help get the attention of Mary Kathryn Hershberger, her pretty friend.

If Miriam helps Junior court Mary Kathryn, she'll get to spend a lot of time with him, but she might lose him in the process. Are these few stolen moments worth a lifetime of sacrifice? Is Miriam right to even hope for the life she dreams of?

Purchase a copy here.

About the Author: Shelley Shepard Gray is a two-time New York Times bestseller, a two-time USA Today bestseller, a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers prestigious Carol Award, and a two-time Holt Medallion winner. She lives in Southern Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town's bike trail.

Learn more about Shelley on her website.

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.