This year I’m trying to read more. I’m on Goodreads (Hey, find me there if you are on it too!), and for the first time I’m doing the yearly reading challenge. My goal is 52 books in the year. You can do the math on how many books each week I need to read. So far? So good.
I think the very first book of the year I read was Tammy L. Gray’s My Hope Next Door. Tammy writes about people who’ve come from messed-up pasts and messy backgrounds. Yet she keeps her stories clearly in the Christian fiction market. I love everything about that combination!
My Hope Next Door is about the town bad girl, Katie Stone, who comes home years after leaving town — and she’s a changed woman now. She’s given her life to God and has turned over a new leaf in a new town in a new state. And then she finds out that her very dysfunctional family needs some help.
Time to go back to the scene of her crimes.
Gray does an excellent job of showing the struggle someone can have to be a new person in a place that used to have such a tight, evil grip on them. She doesn’t gloss over this struggle to be the new creature salvation has made Katie, to escape the people who keep trying to pull her back to what she used to be, to escape the things she did that affected others in ways she still feels horribly guilty over. Sometimes she fails, fails big. That imperfection, that reality, was refreshing to see.
I might not have the past or the struggles that Katie did, but I found myself identifying with her over and over. My sin nature is still there, and man, does it get a hold of me some times. I hate that. And seeing Katie fight, get discouraged, and then receive encouragement from someone to not quit was such a needed reminder to me.
Did I mention there’s romance in this book? There is, and it’s a sweet one.
Have you read My Hope Next Door yet? Or any of Tammy’s other books? She’s got a few that I haven’t had a chance to get to yet. I’d love to hear what you’ve enjoyed about her books.