Thursday, April 29, 2010

Book Review: "Spring's Renewal" by Shelley Shepard Gray

Scarred from a fire when she was small, Clara has resigned herself to living alone and caring for her mother. Believing that no man will be able to see past her scars, Clara has taken up teaching to support herself and her mother. When Tim Graber arrives in Sugarcreek, he doesn't fit in. But everything changes when he meets Clara. He appreciates her quiet nature and her loving way with children. When tragedy strikes, will Tim and Clara have the faith to risk everything for a chance at true love?

I know I have said this before but I really am a fan of Amish fiction by Shelley Shepard Gray. Unlike other Amish books, her stories do not involve conflict between the Amish world and the outside world. There are no main stories about Amish teens struggling between their world and the new things they discover during their Rumspringa or drama about the church and ways of belief. Instead her books just embrace the culture and just let the characters do their own thing and just be Amish. They are always good reads and just very comforting.

In this story, we meet up with schoolteacher Clara who has the unfortunate fate of being scarred from an accident when she was young. She lives with her mother who seems to overly depend on Clara almost to the point of suffocation. There seems to be no hope for a better life and as the years go by and she gets older, Clara resigns herself to this life. Then Tim, a young man trying to find himself, arrives in their town and everything begins to change. While I found myself liking Clara immediately from the beginning, it really took me a while to bond with Tim. He just got on my nerves at first, I think it might be due to maybe the community he was from being a bit stricter. As it stood, I felt that Clara had a lot more daring in her and was more outspoken. Which is more than I could say about Tim's annoying girlfriend Ruby. Woo, what a...well let's just say there are choice words I could have said about her that aren't very nice.

The story focuses on Clara and Tim's relationship as well as their own personal lives. There's a bit of a drama scene at the end but it ties things together nicely. Also part of the story and returning from the first book in the series is pregnant teen Lilly. I was a tad disappointed at the way her story started off in this book. I just felt that after all the buildup from the first book, it felt like this book was such a downer. Still though, I do like Lilly and I am looking forward to reading more about her in the series. Reading about the Amish culture was lots of fun as well. There's lots of talk about food which I like very much and I would love to go visit the restaurant where Lilly works. I really enjoy Gray's books and I am eager for the final book in the series. If you like Amish fiction and are in the mood for a sweet read, this is a great series.

Spring's Renewal by Shelley Shepard Gray is published by Avon Inspire (2010)

This review copy was provided for a blog tour with the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

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