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Songbird #1

The Sweet By and By

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Jade Fitzgerald left the pain of her past in the dust when she headed out for college a decade ago. Now she's thriving in her career and glowing in the light of Max Benson's love.

But then Jade's hippie mother, Beryl Hill, arrives in Whisper Hollow, Tennessee, for Jade's wedding along with Willow, her wild younger sister. Their arrival forces Jade to throw open the dark closets of her past--the insecurity of living with a restless, wandering mother, the silence of her absent father, and the heart-ripping pain of first-love's rejection.

Turns out Beryl has a secret of her own. She needs reconciliation with her oldest daughter before illness takes her life. In the final days leading to the wedding, Jade meets the One who shows her that the past has no hold on her future. With a little grace, they'll meet in the middle, maybe even before that sweet by and by.

313 pages, Hardcover

First published September 15, 2009

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About the author

Sara Evans

56 books123 followers
Sara Evans is an American multi-platinum country music recording artist and songwriter. She was named female vocalist of the year in 2006 by the Academy of Country Music and was once awarded video of the year from the Country Music Association. She and her three children live in Birmingham, Alabama with former pro quarterback-turned-sportscaster Jay Barker, whom she married in 2008.

Librarians note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

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5 stars
505 (31%)
4 stars
573 (35%)
3 stars
422 (25%)
2 stars
104 (6%)
1 star
24 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 185 reviews
Profile Image for  ⊱ Sonja ⊰ ❤️.
2,290 reviews411 followers
March 22, 2022
Jade steht kurz vor ihrer Hochzeit mit Max. Max ist ein begehrter Mann mit Vergangenheit. Er und Jade haben ein Abkommen: Sie wollen nur im Heute leben, in die Zukunft blicken, aber die Vergangenheit ist tabu. So überlegt Jade lange, ob sie ihre Mutter zur Hochzeit einladen soll, denn ihre Mutter ist ein Teil ihrer unschönen Vergangenheit. Doch schließlich entscheidet sich Jade für ihre Mutter und muss sich damit dann doch der Vergangenheit stellen…

* Meine Meinung *
Dieses Buch liest sich zwar relativ leicht, ist aber dennoch sehr tiefsinnig und emotional. Die Geschichte ist sehr schön, gefühlsbetont und nicht unbedingt als Lektüre für zwischendurch geeignet. Als Leser muss man sich auf das Buch einlassen, sich öffnen, fallenlassen und eintauchen. Es geht um Glaube, Liebe und Vergebung.
Sehr gut hat mir gefallen, dass die Geschichte nicht nur aus einer Perspektive erzählt wird. In Rückblicken erfährt der Leser auch Einzelheiten über das damalige Leben von Jades Mutter und der Oma.
Jade wuchs zu einem großen Teil bei ihrer Oma auf, deren Leben sehr von der Religion geprägt war. Jade macht in diesem Buch eine große Entwicklung durch. Sie lernt zu verzeihen und zu akzeptieren.
Mir hat der Roman viel Freude bereitet und ich fühlte mich stets gut unterhalten. Somit kann ich guten Gewissens fünf Sterne vergeben und das Buch allen Lesern, die gerne ein Buch mit Tiefgang lesen möchten, empfehlen.
Profile Image for Gina.
1,768 reviews57 followers
September 22, 2020
I enjoy Sara Evans music. I hated this book. I don't know that I had expectations for it exactly, but I thought it would be better than this. However, I do think results may vary. If you're someone who watches every Hallmark Christmas movie on repeat, then you will probably like this better than me. If, however, you are like me and maybe try to watch 1 every season just to be reminded, yet again, why you hate Hallmark Christmas movies, then this definitely isn't the book for you.

This cloyingly sweet story follows 2 timelines. The present day involves Jade and Max who are 5 weeks from getting married. Jade is torn on whether or not to invite her mother whom she hasn't spoken to in years. The past timeline follows Jade's parents through her birth and growing up years as we come to understand why their relationship is like it is. While the focus of the book is on mother/daughter relationships and recovering from past hurts, the romance with Jade and Max is also prominent. And it's awful. If there were ever two people on earth who shouldn't get married, it's Jade and Max - at least not without some serious individual therapy and couples counseling first. I'm confused by the story as to whether or not I was supposed to find them romantic, but as they supply the "happy ending", I'm thinking yes? Without giving away any details, I'll just say Jade could have made her wedding dress out of all the red flags and still had some left over.
Profile Image for Jerry.
4,640 reviews56 followers
December 2, 2012
A Christian novel co-written by a mainstream country/western singer, with an endorsement from former Desperate Housewife Eva Longoria Parker? I'll admit, I was a bit doubtful, but The Sweet By and By surprised me with its romantically dramatic story of love, tragedy, and forgiveness. Fans of novels by authors such as Karen Kingsbury or Liz Curtis Higgs will likely enjoy this.
Profile Image for Joy .
113 reviews7 followers
January 22, 2011
I'm not usually a women's fiction fan, but I am a huge Rachel Hauck fan and her collaboration with Sara Evans did not let me down. Like her other stories, this book was filled with her signature multi-layered characters.

Beryl is an aging hippie trying to reconnect with her estranged daughter Jade. Unfortunately, Jade carries a lot of bitterness and anger toward her mother. As the authors deftly reveal her hurts to us one layer at a time, we ache over her past but cheer her on as she finally learns to release the pain.

This is ultimately a feel good story about a woman who discovers God's love for her runs deeper than the wounds on her soul. It had just enough romance mixed with the drama to satisfy this die hard romantic.

Profile Image for Maggie Carr.
971 reviews19 followers
October 20, 2018
🎶🎤💃✍📖 "All of my songs tell a story. But this one's special. My first novel. The story about Jade. Her search for real love, her one-eyed mutt, hippie mother, and her quirky vintage shop. It's about looking backward while moving forward. About chasing dreams, endless country roads, and tender faith. A breath of fresh air that'll take your breath away and leave your heart humming a song of joy."
Singer's, songwriter and now author Sara Evans. 🎶🎤💃✍📖
48 reviews
July 11, 2021
I love anything by Rachel Hauck and she paired well with Sara Evans.
Profile Image for Faith Ann.
138 reviews2 followers
November 29, 2017
This was really not a 4 star but close. Very interesting storyline although some of the story development was too unrealistic. Kept me turning pages however and it ended wonderfully. A very enjoyable quick read.
Profile Image for Dale Harcombe.
Author 14 books298 followers
July 23, 2014
Should she send the wedding invitation to her mother or shouldn’t she? That is the situation facing Jade at the beginning of this book. The fact that she even has to think about it tells you there are severe problems in this mother /daughter relationship. And with good reason, the reader discovers as more of the past between Jade and her hippie mother Beryl are revealed. Jade is happy in her relationship with Max and in Whisper Hollow, ( love the name of that place)even though her past still haunts her and even though June, her future mother in law’s interference more than tests her patience at times. Some of the dialogue in this book is witty and clever but I found myself struggling to identify with the characters. At times the writing felt a little jerky. I wondered whether that was to do with jumping around so often in time to tell the story or because it was written by two people. The names of the authors meant nothing to me. I only found out when I reached the end that Sarah Evans is an award winning country vocalist. Perhaps just as well I didn’t know that or I may not have read the book, as I don’t usually read books written by celebrities. Rachel Hauck is also unfamiliar to me as I don’t read a lot of Christian fiction, unless it is by Aussie authors. Though there are certain references throughout, the Christian input in this book is not overt, until towards the end of the book which is heavily laced with the Christian message. My problem was certainly not with the message but the way it was handled. It sounded a little forced to me, but that could me just my take. That said, I quite enjoyed this as an easy and entertaining read, about love and forgiveness.
Profile Image for Erin.
933 reviews20 followers
April 19, 2011
Sometimes the past is better left in the past. That's what Jade Fitzgerald is convinced would be best for her, but as the weeks count down before she marries the man of her dreams Jade is haunted by her broken childhood. Should she invite the mother who abandoned her? Just how much heartache is she willing to expose herself to in order to reach out?

Beryl never grew out of being the free-spirited flower child of the '60's. She's lived life on her own terms with little thought of the impact her choices were making on those around her. With the arrival of Jade's wedding invitation she begins to think maybe there are some bridges worth mending...

This story is a mixture of present-day events and flashbacks from both Jade and Beryl's perspective. I appreciated that all the flashbacks were chronological and therefore less confusing to follow; at the same time, the story had a start-and-stop feel to it, failing to draw me in completely.

I really thought this book was going to have a different ending than it did. It was a good ending, just not what I thought we were leading up to. I know there is a sequel and while there were some parts of this story that resonated very deeply within me, the rest of it I could take or leave. Not planning at this point to seek out the second one.
Profile Image for Jessica Till.
45 reviews
March 4, 2017
I like Rachel Hauck's books, but this wasn't my favorite. The characters' problems were complex and reasonably well-portrayed, but the resolution of them was overly simplistic. I also take exception to the number of boundary violations that are glossed over because someone "meant well" or was a person of faith. Forgiveness is indeed divine, but that doesn't erase the need to respect others; some supporting characters get an egregious pass on that one.

Trigger warning: Graphic discussion of abortion (which isn't wholly accurate), equally graphic representation of emotional aftermath, and a heavy dose of anti-choice rhetoric. This book doesn't present a woman struggling with the issue in the context of her faith so much as it bludgeons with the author's stance. The book could have been so much more powerful without that.
Profile Image for Taunya.
320 reviews
March 4, 2010
I think I was looking for another book by the same name or a similar name. This one is ok, it's a romance/finding Jesus novel co-written by the singer Sara Evans. In the interview she does at the beginning, she says that this is not her life story, just a novel she had in her head. I guess the moral is that with all life experiences that are bad, we need to forgive and move on in order to be happy...even when we are the victims.
Profile Image for Shelley D..
32 reviews
February 3, 2021
As Jade prepares for her upcoming wedding to Max, she must first confront some demons from her past, most notably her mother. Being a fan of her music, I generally enjoyed Evans' first book. It was a quick and "fluffy" read - definitely not something you need to think too hard about.

The plot jumping from past to present was a great way to slowly peel away Jade's layers and reveal more and more about her, giving her depth. The small town of Whisper Hollow is incredibly charming and the imagery used to describe locations and events really brought everything to life. Each character had their own distinct voice and personality. Although this is primarily a mother/daughter relationship story, you get little glimpses at other dynamics which is refreshing. I thought the Christian notes were very well done and not overthought or forced.

While I liked the character of Jade, there were a few things I struggled with. Some phrases were absolutely overused. At once point, "cherry bomb" was used to refer to friendly interrogation multiple times within a page or two. The phrase "ball and chain" popped up more than once within the last 50 pages as well, and "sense of self" made quite a few encores. While this normally wouldn't bother me, I found it really distracting to have such repetition in short succession.

I also really did NOT like Max. I wanted to, I tried to because I knew I was supposed to, but I just couldn't. He reads like a tool to me and there are some relationship red flags I had trouble overlooking for the sake of plot. He (and his mother, for that matter) come off as controlling. I imagine that this leads for some development in the following novels but it was super annoying. He and Jade also have an "everything before us is in the past, no discussion necessary" take on their relationship which spells bad news from the very beginning. C'mon, you're going to marry someone you know very little about? Ya'll need Jesus and therapy.

For the most part, I enjoyed The Sweet By and By although I'm not sure if I'll go out of my way to finish the series. The plot was relatively predictable but it was a super easy read, good for a few snow days and a happy ending.
Profile Image for Rob.
450 reviews4 followers
June 27, 2021
The hysterical laughter I endured from this has my mind wandering through the elysian fields with no promise to return this night. After the initial thirty pages and opening chapters I realized what talent less rushed jargon I was in for and decided to continue reading for a laugh. Can I tell you I had a plethora of them, as the dialogue in this book consisted of inside jokes of which the reader would never be able to comprehend and hapless sentences that changed direction literally mid sentence. I have to say since sara evans claimed this was an idea she had and wanted to get it out in the world.....this should have stayed in her head, this had to be the most mind numbing contemporary fiction I have ever read, sorry sara even though I doubt you did much of the writing yourself anyway. And because I'm a masochist and in need of laughter, I'm going to skim through the second book and hope it's just as "entertaining".
Profile Image for DeAnna.
362 reviews4 followers
February 24, 2022
I don’t know much about her music but country star Sara Evans writes a pretty good book!

Despite the sweet title this book handles a lot of heavy stuff. Jade has a very strained relationship with her mother and is preparing to get married to Max, the love of her life. As she prepares for her wedding day, people and events from her past become obstacles she has to face.

This book is about forgiveness, grace and repentance. Jade struggles with her faith and reconciling with people that have hurt her deeply, including herself.

If you enjoy reading about family history and relationships, you’ll like this one.

❗️One warning: there are some tragic scenes in the book involving the death of a child. Because of this I wouldn’t recommend this book to sensitive readers.

3.5/5 ⭐️ - a good book. This is the first in a series and I’d like to read them all based on how much I enjoyed this one.
Profile Image for Barbara.
1,833 reviews
August 31, 2022
This is a contemporary Christian story about family relationships and how the past can affect our future. The story was interesting enough, and the past came to light eventually, but I had trouble with two people who are going to be married hiding secrets from their past from one another, even as a mutual agreement. In my opinion, if you are truly in love and you trust that person enough to marry them, then you should be able to share anything, especially things that might affect the relationship if they come to light later. This is especially crucial if what you are hiding makes you depressed, you have trouble dealing with it, etc. The father did not seem believable to me. The resolution presented seemed too quick and easy. Perhaps this is continued in the rest of the Songbird series. It is valuable enough that I might read the next one to see which direction things go.
Profile Image for Meredith Resce.
Author 33 books50 followers
February 27, 2023
I have read a number of Rachel Hauke’s books, and really enjoy her intriguing style. That same style reflected in this co-authored book. I do not know Sarah Evans and didn’t know she was a singer and this is a book she has co-authored. I love the way that the characters Are real and messy. Their lives are complicated and full of past pain and trauma that doesn’t come forward straight away, but piece by piece we discover what has been hidden away. I like the dual timeline device and it is interesting the way the backstory is gradually revealed. The ending might have been a bit simplistic in its resolution, but it was satisfying and I’m glad that there was reconciliation in the finish
Profile Image for Julia  .
67 reviews1 follower
May 25, 2023
I don't know how to feel. I liked the content that the book dealt with, but I found myself not able to root for the characters.

Jade and Max each have baggage that they deal with, separately and together, and the overarching theme of redemption is nice. But, and it might just be me, I felt no chemistry between them. I really did appreciate the topics they touched on - first love vs true love, abortion, addiction, exes, etc - and it was almost a nice break to read a love story between two normal people who choose to love each other. Some sparks would have been nice to keep it from being dull, but I guess it was fine without it.
33 reviews
February 23, 2022
I enjoy realistic fiction like this and watching Jade come to terms with her past so she can move into her future was both a pleasure to listen to and painful. The end sure was rosy though - not so realistic to me and wrapped up fast - and I think maybe resources to help with post-abortion like Passages of Hope or Project Rachel would have been appropriate. Note: I did listen to audiobook and while I enjoyed the narrator's cute, southern drawl, it was difficult at times to keep track of dialogue.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Teresa.
103 reviews
April 19, 2018
This was a great book! I wasn't sure what to expect. I hadn't picture Sara Evans as an author. I was pleasantly surprised at how well this is written. I expected the conversations to be stilted and awkward, but that wasn't the case at all. It easily intertwined faith and forgiveness throughout the story. Good reminders to all of us that God forgives, and we must forgive not only others but ourselves as well.
Profile Image for Kathy Mizell.
396 reviews1 follower
May 19, 2018

Jade had blamed so many people for all the hurts she had from the time she was 8 years old to the week before she was to marry Max Benton, the love of her life. Sara Evans wrote a wonderful book of a young girl and all the years of growing up, the most important night that she spent with the man that helped her forgive and who forgave her. Read this book and you will cry from sorrow and happiness.
Profile Image for Ashley.
240 reviews6 followers
October 16, 2019
Yeah...this was not for me. I borrowed the audiobook from my local library because the title fit a prompt in a reading challenge I'm doing this year. I didn't really read what it was about. All of the characters made horrible choices throughout the book that had me rolling my eyes almost constantly. There's a way to do sweet romance with some conflict that ends in a happily ever after and this isn't it.
Profile Image for Janet Friesner.
940 reviews9 followers
February 22, 2020
This first book of this trilogy was wonderful. It was written a long time ago and this trilogy as far as I can find is the only Christian Fiction written by Sara Evans. Rachel Hauck, a wonderful Christion Fiction Author joined her in this endeavor. I am looking forward to reading the next two books in this series. Wonderful story showing the need for second chances and our need for a personal relationship with Jesus. Highly recommend.
Profile Image for Jennifer Mitchell-Shirley.
180 reviews1 follower
June 12, 2021
I read the 3rd in the series first, then the 2nd, now the 1st as it just became available. So I wanted to know how the story started. About half way through I thought, “This is insanity.” But finished it, and it did answer the questions I had from the other books and the story, complete story, came together. So if you read this one first, the rest of the series is worth reading and it is an interesting story of relationships and characters. Glad I read them all.
Profile Image for Pam Chaffin.
216 reviews
March 7, 2018
A christian trilogy, (Book 1), filled with family, faith, and real life issues of all kinds that can and do surround and break down families. The trilogy also shows what faith in God, and following His will can do to help rebuild marriages, relationships, and to heal broken hearts.
Definitely worth reading!
Profile Image for Crystal Ellyson.
503 reviews4 followers
August 19, 2019
The Sweet By and By Review.

It was okay book. It took me forever to get into it. I like the book. The main character, Jade was the only thing that kept me from giving up on this book.
27 reviews
October 9, 2020
A beautiful story of Jade Fitzgerald, her family struggles, and heartaches. Bitterness consumes her and blame keeps her from feeling free. When she is able to share all the secrets of her past and find a comforting spiritual relationship her life begins a whole new chapter.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 185 reviews

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