What’s better than one great novel by a wildly successful Christian author? Why three of them of course! That is what you’ll find in A Kingsbury Collection: Three Novels in One: Where Yesterday Lives, When Joy Came to Stay, On Every Side since it’s difficult to review three stand alone novels all together I’ve broken each individual story into it’s own review–I feel that as a collection they make sense. Each novel deals with deep and heart wrenching troubles. I especially thought the first two novels paired extremely well together!
In Where Yesterday Lives Karen Kingsbury delves into the deep and complex emotions that encompass losing a loved one and growing up and apart from family and friends and how different things in our lives shape us and our perspective on the world so greatly. I love how she tackles these issues through the various eyes of the Barrett family. Ellen Barret–successful yet unfulfilled reporter is the main character but each of the family members is focused on in the book, each of their emotions and backstory come into play. I love how the struggles, fights, and difficulties are shown from each characters perspective because it lends to greater empathy as a reader and really tugs at your heart strings! One of my favorite song lyrics is by Big and Rich and is says, “You never stop loving somebody, no matter what you tell yourself. You never stop loving somebody–you just start loving somebody else.” I’ve always found that to ring so true and part of Ellen’s storyline delves into this complex and sometimes dangerous dynamic. Unlike in other Kingsbury novels where I wanted to smack the characters for doing stupid things each move that the Barretts make is completely believable and it’s easy to see exactly how they would end up where they are as the story develops.
I truly enjoyed this book! It wasn’t a light and fluffy read but rather deep and rich and emotional and shows the very fabric of what being a human, along with a fallen sinner who accepts Christ, really is all about.
When Joy Came to Stay shines a spotlight on the hot button topics of depression and foster care. I really appreciated how Karen handled both of these super sensitive topics that are so easily taken to one extreme or the other. Instead of doing either of those things through a complex and intriguing storyline and characters Karen shows us how sin always has a price–but God never abandons those He saves and claims as his own.
As you learn Maggie’s story your heart hurts for her and her pain and depression becomes more understood and something to empathize with rather than to look down upon if you have never experienced it for yourself. I also appreciated Ben’s side of the story–and his journey into love and forgiveness and rooting out the sin within his own life. And of course who couldn’t adore sweet little Amanda–the ray of sunshine in the novel?? Another aspect of this book that I appreciated was that the perfect person facade is often just that–a facade. We should never judge others or be envious of their lives because we have no idea of knowing what is truly going on within them–this is why it is so important to never be envious and to always be kind and this is shown beautifully through the character of Laura Thompson in this novel.
Another deep and gem of a novel I highly recommend this-it’s among my favorites of Kingsbury’s that I’ve ever read!
On Every Side
I’m sad to admit that after thoroughly enjoying the first two novels in this book the last novel was a bit of a let down. While it still had true Kingsbury flavor in that it was easy to read and it kept my attention throughout, there were several different items that I felt drew away from the overall picture. The biggest for me was her focus more on the “sensational” realm of Christianity with a vision/dream (whether from God or an Angel is never made clear–first it makes it seem like an angel but then the man is instructed to remove his shoes because he is on “holy ground”) that occurs twice to one of the main characters and a near death experience for one of the others. I feel like maybe because the overall storyline of the angel in the park wasn’t as gripping she felt the need to “add a bit of excitement” into the story. I did love how this novel was based on true events–which I felt would have made an amazing novel just in and of themselves without the extra flair. Another aspect of the book that I loved was watching the change of heart that took place in both of the main characters–and the thought of “the walls coming down” theme that ran throughout the book. If you’re a died hard Kingsbury fan then this is certainly worth reading–but I’ve enjoyed several other of her books much more!
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