Brenda Anderson’s books in the Coming Home Women’s Fiction series are entertaining, but they make one think about life—how we live it and how we react to it—long after the last page has been read.
I enjoyed Pieces of Granite because the characters were so real, and they were wrestling with issues that can affect us or people we know any day. I liked that the main character has a strong faith and is authentic in her reactions to the stresses in her life. I liked how the author brought the story to a satisfactory resolution with the anticipation that the story continues in the next book. The title of the book becomes clear at the end in a beautiful and unexpected way. I’m pleased that Anderson chose issues such as what happens when you find out you’re expecting a child with a disability and how it affects your marriage and relationships because such real issues cause so many heartaches, and seeing how the characters worked through them has value even if they are make believe. I love reading a book and feeling that I’ve made a new friend when I’ve finished.
In Chain of Mercy, I wanted to keep reading rather than do anything else so that I knew the final outcome in this novel that addresses abortion and pro-life views. I enjoyed how the characters grow and change from the beginning to the end. I enjoyed the Wisconsin Badger-Minnesota Gopher humor since I’m a Wisconsin Badger fan, of course. I thought she had a powerful story with the conflicting views of the hero and the heroine. I liked how they worked it out and how the book was resolved. It was a very satisfying read.
In Memory Box Secrets, the novel doesn’t end the way you expect it to. Like life, the story goes through highs and lows and unexpected twists. As the characters face tough choices, the reader gets to wrestle through the decision making process with them. While Memory Box Secrets ties up loose ends about what happened to the characters in Chain of Mercy, readers get to know Sheila and Richard better, along with some new characters. Anderson is good at crafting realistic, well-rounded people with their strengths and weaknesses and putting them into tough situations to work through.
In Memory Box Secrets, readers are introduced to the stories of other characters that Anderson could flesh out into their own books. For example, I wish I could have seen Doran’s transformation. I think Lauren has a story to tell also.
I felt the pain in this novel, but there was always hope. Readers can see one option for dealing with the tough choices presented. There are likable characters and one I didn’t like–Sheila’s mom. She’s the type of person I don’t understand. I felt Sheila’s pain and understood her anger. Such feelings attest to Anderson’s good character development. I felt like Anderson grabbed a piece of real life and let us watch it unfold. I like how Richard dealt with rebellious Nathan. This book deals with forgiveness on many different levels. I appreciate how Anderson wove faith through in a nonthreatening, natural way. It was a good story, though I thought the ending felt abrupt and a little confusing.
Hungry for Home, the final book in the Coming Home Series, deals with homelessness. I’ve never been homeless like Austin, nor have I been as rich as Richard and Shelia, but through Hungry for Home, I got a taste of each, and was also able to feel what it might be like to be in the shoes of each. I wrestled with some of their choices, rejoiced in the good news, and wanted to advise them in their tough choices. With fiction, you can immerse yourself in a situation to see how you might react. In this story, there were actions they took that I found I’d be cautious, even resistant in, which got me thinking about truly faith-filled actions. Fiction sometimes allows readers to test their bravery through the situations cast on the page, some ideal, some not so ideal.
I wanted to keep reading to find out how it would turn out leading to a few late nights. I think this is a good indication of a worthy read. There were shockers/unexpected turns.
I like how Anderson brings up the sacrifices that come with huge promotions, and how these affect the spouse and children. So often people gloss over these issues making it seem like you can have it all, which is totally not true. Someone or something loses or is lost in the choices we make. I like that Anderson isn’t afraid to tell the truth about real issues and the consequences that can follow.
Anderson also does an excellent job of capturing on the page a number of ranges of emotion.
I also appreciate how she weaves faith into her story and that her characters react realistically to crises. There was only one decision that Richard made that I thought was hasty and maybe not as realistic because of the time span involved.
I liked following the story through the four novels.