A complimentary copy of this book was provided by Celebrate Lit. I was not required to write a positive review, and have not been compensated for this. All opinions are my own.
Published by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform on November 23rd 2016
Source: Celebrate Lit
Genres: Christian Fiction
It's a truth universally unacknowledged that sin will hunt you down and advertise its presence the moment you think you've hidden it. Emily Byrne sits in her daughter's classroom listening to the deepest wishes of twenty kindergarteners as she sketches them. But when little Joey Cordell breaks down, weeping and insisting the only thing he wants to find is his father, she isn't sure where her Christmas project will take her. Davia Cordell came to Rockland for one purpose--find her son's father before she dies. An ex-prostitute, she's well aware that the news will cause waves, but what's a mother to do? As these women join forces to search for Joey's father--a Rockland area pastor, no less-- Emily learns compassion for a woman who just wants the best for her son and can't quite imagine that Jesus wants anything to do with her. Each day, Davia weakens until Emily isn't confident she'll find the boy's father in time--if at all. Doubts form. Should she look? Is it right to risk destroying a family like this--an entire church? The weight of that responsibility crushes her as Davia wastes away before her eyes. A mother's love. A boy's confidence. A family's faith. A preacher's failure. Is redemption even possible anymore? Christmas Embers: a story of love, failure, and redemption.
Note: Kristin reads and reviews both Christian and secular fiction on A Simply Enchanted Life. Out of respect for my readers, I am including a content review. This content review will help you decide whether this book is suitable for you.
Christian or Secular: Christian
Profanity: I wouldn’t consider “Whore” to be profanity but some will.
Sex&Violence: There is mention of sex but we are never taken into the bedroom.
Trigger Warnings: This book discusses infidelity and prostitution.
Disclosure: When a member of the clergy commits adultery, it brings such a reproach to the name of Christ. For some, this is unforgivable. Not everyone will agree with the outcome of this book. See the review for more details.
I’ve been so torn on how to rate this book. When it comes to writing style—five stars, no doubt about it. Chautona has a unique voice as a writer. I’m not quite sure that I’ve ever encountered anyone with her particular quirk. I love it. However, I struggled with a few things in the story. So, I went back and forth from three to five and then back to three. I finally settled on a four and I’d like to talk about why.
This book made me angry. Which surprised me. I knew full well what this book was about, so I didn’t really anticipate the anger that I would feel. Please, finish reading my review before you take this statement and twist it into something it isn’t.
If spoilers bother you, stop reading now.
In this story, a seemingly perfect couple is nearly broken by infidelity. “Be sure your sins will find you out,” becomes a reality when Emily finds out that her husband, Sean fathered a son, with a prostitute, no less.
Joey is only a few months younger than his half-sister, Piper. They are both six years old when they find out about one another.
This is where I get personal and shift my attention from the book to my life.
I was Piper.
I found out that I had a half-sister when I was five years old. She was seven. My dad had kept her a secret until she had health issues that required a surgery and hospital stay. My dad brought home this little girl, placed her in my mother’s arms and said, “Her mom has to work and she’s just had surgery. I need you to watch her while I’m at work.” I can remember my mom asking, “Who is she?” My dad replied, “She’s my daughter.”
My dad claimed to be a preacher—not a pastor. I was raised in church. I knew adultery was bad. There was so much confusion, hurt and embarrassment. I thought I had worked through all that shame and anger. But, it was hiding somewhere beneath the surface, brewing, waiting. I suppose a completely broken relationship with my half-sister exacerbates matters. I can’t even bring myself to say she is my sister—and I’m not without a legitimate reason. Still, I thought I’d forgiven my dad. But this book pulled off the bandage that was holding closed the gaping wound in my heart.
I was angry.
For myself. For Piper. For my mom. For Joey. For my sisters. For Emily. And honestly, I don’t know if I can accept how the book ended with forgiveness. It was the right choice for Emily, perhaps. But, I’m still angry.
I understand why. I understand how. I understand that God can take things that are broken and mend them. But, I obviously still need to pray that God will help me with this.
I really did like this book.
Despite my conflicting emotions, I’m glad that I read this book. I’m grateful for Chautona for uncovering the devastation that families face when a person commits adultery.
For me, this book was less about a prostitute finding redemption and a couple overcoming infidelity and more about a little girl who desperately needs to keep praying for a spirit of love and forgiveness. Sure, I read between the lines to come to this conclusion. But, that’s just how God was speaking to me. The side of me that is bitter really wanted to rate this book lower—because I couldn’t stop to hear the Lord whispering for me to forgive. All I could do was remember the shame and embarrassment that I felt when people would ask me about the affair.
I guess all of this is to say—I did like this book. And, I’m not perfect. God’s still working on me.