Book Review: "Tender Grace" by Jackina Stark

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Tender Grace

Bethany House (February 1, 2009)

Jackina Stark


I have also spoken nationally and internationally at many retreats and seminars and enjoy running into many readers and former students. I have written frequently for both Christian Standard and Lookout, periodicals of Standard Publishing. Years ago I wrote two non-fiction books, published by College Press, but currently out of print. These days, I’m exploring fiction. My first novel, Tender Grace, will be released by Bethany House January 30, 2009, and a second, Things Worth Remembering, will be released in October, 2009. I’m working on new projects, including a third novel, as time permits. Whether speaking or writing, I love the opportunity to tell about Him whom Jesus called “Holy Father” and “the only true God.”

She lives in Joplin, Missouri with her husband, and she spends most of her free time doing is reading and writing. That is what she usually do when she's not teaching, enjoying the children and grandchildren, or sitting on the back porch drinking a Diet Coke and watching her husband till the garden!


Audrey Eaton awakes at three in the morning and gets up to retrieve her husband, Tom, from the recliner where he has fallen asleep watching a ball game. But when she enters the living room and looks at his gentle face in the soft lamp light, she knows their time together is over. Grief attacks her until all she can think about is how much she wants her old life back. Determined to find healing, she embarks on a journey to the one place Tom and she always intended to visit but never did. Along the way, she discovers, through shared experiences with friends old and new, the meaning of the "tender graces" God provides each and every day.

I've quit reading--even bestsellers, even the newspaper, even my Bible. I've also quit listening to music. This lack of appreciation for things I once loved is beginning to define me. More mornings than I can count, I say to myself before I open my eyes, "I don't want to do this." In the days shortly following Tom's death, that made sense, but what does it mean now? That I'm in trouble? One of the best qualities of the former me was thankfulness. As I was trying to sleep last night, needing Tom to be curled up behind me, his left arm slung across me, I realized to my horror that I couldn't remember the last time I was truly thankful. I think of a line from an old hymn: "Awake, my soul, and sing." I miss Tom. I also miss me. Determined to find healing, Audrey Eaton embarks on a trip to the one place she and her husband always intended to visit but never did. When things don't go as planned, will she embrace the unexpected graces that guide her journey?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Tender Grace, go HERE

One of the bests debut novels ever

Ever read a book that when you finished, the first word that comes to mind is "beautiful"? That's what happened when I finished this book. It was so wonderfully written and just flowed so perfectly. This book was just not at all what I expected. With the subject matter, I thought I would see cliched endings and characters but was instead delighted to see a new direction taken in the novel. It's a sad book as it deals with Audrey having to reluctantly face life after the unexpected death of her husband. It's totally understandable that she does not want to move on. However instead of just moping around and having change come to her, she instead goes out and discovers them on her own. I totally loved that she did that too. It gave her a quiet strength that I really admire.

This book combined two of my favorite elements in novel. I always like books written in diary/journal format. I feel that they give the reader a better outlook into the mind of the character as you are able to get directly in their mind. Plus, I find them really enjoyable and they make for a faster read because with no chapter breaks, you can't stop reading! I also love books that have road trips in them because I love having the setting of the novel change. It's always good to see a character out of their element and able to explore the different customs, meeting new people and having adventures along their trip. Road trips usually also change the character and have them see things in a different light. That's exactly what happened in this story too. This is a wonderful debut novel and honestly one of the best debut novels I've read in a while. I will be looking forward to Jackina's next book. HIGHLY recommended.

Tender Grace by Jackina Stark is published by Bethany House (2009)


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