Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Caregiver

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Caregiver
Avon Inspire; Original edition (March 8, 2011)
Shelley Shepard Gray


Shelley Shepard Gray is the beloved author of the Sisters of the Heart series, including Hidden, Wanted, and Forgiven. Before writing, she was a teacher in both Texas and Colorado. She now writes full time and lives in southern Ohio with her husband and two children. When not writing, Shelley volunteers at church, reads, and enjoys walking her miniature dachshund on her town's scenic bike trail.


Two lives converge one stormy night on a train headed to cleveland

Lucy is traveling by herself via train to Jacob's Crossing to help care for her cousin Mattie, recently diagnosed with breast cancer. Trying to overcome the sudden death of her husband, she's glad to get away and focus on someone else for a while.

The only other Amish people on the train are Calvin Weaver and his little sister, Katie. When their train breaks down outside of Cleveland, Calvin and Lucy band together to face the outside world. But Calvin also carries the weight of past hurts. When an altercation brings both their wounds to light, they question whether they can trust each other.

Once in Jacob's Crossing, Lucy is occupied with caring for Mattie, while Calvin does his best to run his family's farm. But they can't stop thinking about those special hours spent together. Will the bond they formed last? And will Lucy and Calvin be able to put away the pain in their pasts to recognize the happiness that is suddenly in their grasp?

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Caregiver, go HERE.

The Caregiver by Shelley Shepard Gray is the first book in the Families of Honor series. Lucy Troyer is traveling alone on a train to Jacob's Crossing to help care for her cousin Mattie who is battling cancer. Lucy's still trying to get her life back after the death of her husband, Paul, a year ago. Although they were only married for two years, Lucy was permanently changed by his constant and brutal physical and verbal abuse. She's no longer the independent, strong and happy woman she once was. She meets Calvin Weaver and his little sister, Katie, on the train, and the trio lean on each other when the train has technical problems, creating a bond in the midst of adversity. Calvin and Katie just happen to be from Jacob's Crossing, which Lucy sees as a sign of God's hand. Calvin is still smarting from the betrayal of his best friend and girlfriend who fell in love with each other, leaving him humiliated in front of the community. Calvin and Lucy both tentatively connect through their enforced time together, but misunderstandings leave them both disturbed by the other's behavior. Still, neither can deny the connection between them, and their hesitant and sweet romance is the strength of the book. Mattie's battle with cancer and the ensuing depression and distance from the Lord adds depth and complexity to the plot. Without her, the story would seem almost too sweet, but Mattie makes Lucy speak her mind and face the truth, even when it's uncomfortable. The two young women come to see that they have much in common: both were placed in terrible situations where they questioned God's will and their lives were irrevocably changed by it. Gray has filled Jacob's Crossing with a variety of interesting characters who will surely make the series an enjoyable read. While Lucy and Calvin's romance is delicate and sweet, Mattie's anger is very real and gritty, and her relationship with Graham is an enigma. Plus John, Calvin's uncle who left the faith twenty years ago, has returned and is torn between an Englischer woman and an Amish widow with a son. There's a lot to love about this series. Gray is one of my favorite writers of bonnet fiction; she really makes the characters come to life.