Monday, May 26, 2014

Thankful by Shelley Shepard Gray

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. 

Reading is definitely a favorite past time of mine and fortunately, lately, I have found myself able to make time to read more. Whether on a rainy day when our sports calendar has been cancelled leaving us with no real plans or on a pretty day when I can sit on the deck and read while the kids play, it has been nice to have the additional time to read.

One of the books that I have recently read is Thankful by Shelley Shepard Gray. This is the second story in her Return to Sugarcreek series. She writes such a nice straight-forward, easy to read story. The style works well for putting down and picking back up several times over a couple of days without having to flip back to remind yourself where you were - which was perfect for the way I read.

Again, the characters in Thankful are warm and the type that you can't help but feel a connection to and find yourself rooting for things to turn out the 'right' way. The story moves easily between characters and their stories and progresses nicely. One nice thing is that the characters from the first book, Hopeful, returned in this story - some simply in the background, and others finding their story continue to progress. I always love to continue to watch stories evolve for those that you came to know in another book - it makes me feel somehow complete.

As with Hopeful, Thankful is set in Sugarcreek, Ohio - which, as I mentioned before, 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 main story could have been set almost anywhere and with any community of people, with it's universal theme. How close is too close for love? As children, Aden and Christina always had a special bond and saw the other as a likely future spouse, but when he came to live with her family and were raised almost as siblings, can they ever be more than friends? And, what might be the cost to each if they do? One of the other main stories that was developing was the continuing story of Judith and Ben, who as we learned in Hopeful, can not have children of their own. As they proceed down the path of adoption, they decided to participate in the foster system. They find themselves having to come to an inner peace with being foster parents to a baby that is not from their community and from a mother that is in the prison system.

I liked that the book was more about the story's characters and what was going on in their lives, rather than being about them being Amish. There were some non-Amish in the story because of where they live and work and because of their need for transportation, but it wasn't full of Englisher influence or support.

I enjoyed reading this second book by Gray and look forward to reading the future books in the series.

About the book:

Thankful, Book Two in the Return to Sugarcreek series

New York Times bestselling author Shelley Shepard Gray captures the beauty, devotion, and warmth of Amish life in this engaging tale of family, commitment, trust, and love set in the beloved community of Sugarcreek.

Christina Kempf has always known that God chose Aden Reese to be her husband. As children, he was there to save her when she fell through the ice, and he's been by her side ever since. After his parents died in a car accident ten years ago, the Kempfs raised Aden as one of their own, and everyone sees Aden and Christina as brother and sister. But Christina has never given up hope that Aden will one day ask her to be his wife.

Aden always planned to court Christina. But losing his mother and father changed everything---except his love for her. Her parents generously welcomed him into their home and treated him like a son. He can't betray their kindness by admitting his feelings for the girl who is like a sister . . . yet so much more.
Pressured by her parents to court, Christina begins to accept the attentions of Sugarcreek's young men, and now, Aden must make a choice. Will he stand by and watch the love of his life slip away? Or will he risk losing the love and trust of the family he holds dear to tell Christina how he truly feels?

Thankful includes a P.S. section with additional insights from the author, background material, suggestions for further reading, and more.

Purchase a copy:

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.

You can find her on Facebook and she has a 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.