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Leota's Garden

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Once Leota’s garden was a place of beauty—where flowers bloomed and hope thrived. It was her refuge from the deep wounds inflicted by a devastating war, her sanctuary where she knelt before a loving God and prayed for the children who couldn’t understand her silent sacrifices.

At eighty-four, Leota is alone, her beloved garden in ruins. All her efforts to reconcile with her adult children have been fruitless. She voices her despair to a loving Father, her only friend.

And God brings a wind of change through unlikely means: one, a college student who thinks he has all the answers; the other, the granddaughter Leota never hoped to know. But can the devastation wrought by keeping painful family secrets be repaired before she runs out of time?

432 pages, Hardcover

First published July 8, 1999

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About the author

Francine Rivers

355 books16.2k followers
New York Times bestselling author Francine Rivers continues to win both industry acclaim and reader loyalty around the globe. Her numerous bestsellers include Redeeming Love, A Voice in the Wind, and Bridge to Haven, and her work has been translated into more than thirty different languages. She is a member of Romance Writers of America's coveted Hall of Fame as well as a recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW).

Twitter: @FrancineRivers

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5 stars
9,886 (43%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 963 reviews
218 reviews21 followers
September 11, 2011
I find myself faced with trepidation when writing a review of Leota's Garden. A little info on my perspective may be helpful. I am a public librarian--I read a ton, and a mammoth variety. I even do some reading because I "should"....some of you librarians in the crowd know what I am saying. I feel a need to be well-read and to have a basic knowledge of most genres. While I dig a ton of different types of books, genres and information, of course, I do have my favorites. And I certainly am not afraid to read things that may offend gentler sensibilities, although another, defininig aspect of my life is that I am Jesus loving freak . Do what you want with that. Yup, I love Jesus. Some of you are moaning now. But, do let's TRY to be friends. ;-)
Anyway, here's my deal. I think a lot of Christian fiction is heavily LADEN with mediocrity, and it pains me to say and think so. It makes me groan with its cheesy and/or pollyanna factor, and I'm even on the same team!! (That's not to say there are not some gems. There certainly are). Some of it would not even come close to appealing to a non-believer....a much smaller portion may. Leota's Garden definitely falls in the former. I think it has some strong points -- the storyline is appealing, and you wonder how things ultimately are going to work out. And, to the author's credit, she does not tie things up all smooth and nice like one may expect. I often felt throughout that yes, there was a Velveeta factor; and yet, I was eager to get back to the book and see what was happening next. I don't know --- I want to like it (I enjoyed Redeeming Love by Rivers!), but I don't think it's great. :-( If you like Christian fiction AND you're a woman....you're already familiar with Rivers as she is wildy popular and prolific, so it's probably redudant to say you very well may like it.
Profile Image for Marnie  (Enchanted Bibliophile).
851 reviews123 followers
April 8, 2018
All important things happened in a garden

First Sentence: CORBAN SOLSEK'S HEART DROPPED AND HIS STOMACH CLENCHED tight when he saw the B on his sociology proposal.

All the emotional turmoil is so accurately portrayed, you can't help to think of Leota, Annie, Corban and Nora as people you know.
After all these years this re-read was so worth it. I got so much more out of the book this time around.
Rivers truly have a God-given talent.
Profile Image for Tanya.
243 reviews1 follower
October 14, 2011
I could almost say this was the best book I had read in 2011. I loved the characters, particularly Leota and her Grand-daughter. There are moments I laughed and I cried. I like that in a book. I love reading characters that seem real.

What kept this book from a 5 star rating since I did enjoy it very much.

1. It is very, very heavy in the Christian theme and genre. Not that it bothered me but I know it would turn off many people and I even found myself skipping many pages in the middle when some heavy preaching was going on that honestly seemed out of place. Maybe because my views and beliefs are slightly different, it didn't work for me. (I have the same issue with many LDS books, I don't want to be preached at, made to feel guilty or somehow less of a person because I complain about a dishwasher being broken.)

2. I have problems with the grand-daughter being 18. Maybe because I know what I was like at 18, and since I was a fairly mature and serious 18 year old, I wonder if I could have done what this 18 year old did. I'm sure she was created as such because 18 year olds want freedom but I think for me I would have believed in her a bit more if she was at least 21. I think the plot could have been adjusted to still have her be what she was designed to be, and it would have been a better book for it.

3. Certain demographics will absolutely hate this book, namely, feminists, atheists, socialists, basically anyone that is not a conservative Christian will hate it. I know the author is trying to make moral points in the book but by the end I was trying to figure out what moral issue was the most important and hence the ending fell flat for me. Too many issues and some of them were never resolved for me in a satisfactory manner.

Again I thought it was well done with characterization, and the basic story. If you can live with the above issues it is worth trying to read.
Profile Image for Loraine.
3,024 reviews
March 28, 2012
If I could have given this book a score greater than 5 I would have. Leota is an elderly lady whose children feel she was a bad mother and whose granddaughter wants to get to know her. At 84 time is running out, she lives in a run down neighborhood surrounded by a once-beautiful garden. Anne-Lynn her granddaughter breaks the ties with her mom, heads to California to go to art school, and determines to develop a relationship with her grandmother. The complex characters in this story: Eleanor and Gerald, Leota's two children; Sam, Susan and Corban, Anne-Lynn's friends; and the spouses of Eleanor and Gerald, Fred and Jeanne; all combine into a dysfunctional unit that only Leota and God can unravel. The garden will be the centerpoint that brings peace, wholeness and healing to Leota, her family and the circle of friends.
Profile Image for Mel.
35 reviews11 followers
August 5, 2011
"Leota's Garden" is the story of a crotchety old woman estranged from all her family members, who becomes the case study of a sociology student. From the beginning, it is clear that Leota is more than just a bitter old lady, and Rivers' writing brings to life a woman who desperately longs to reconnect with her children. It is only when her granddaughter, Annie, arrives on her doorstep unexpectedly, that Leota's past and present can be resolved. At the same time, Corban, the sociology student, is forced to examine his own life and beliefs as he sees Leota and her granddaughter live out their faith in Jesus.

"Leota's Garden" is not a short novel, and I couldn't bring myself to put it down until I'd seen how it ended. When I reached the last page, I couldn't help wanting to know more about the characters that I'd grown so fond of. It's a feeling I experience often when reading Francine Rivers' novels, and I think it's the mark of a talented writer to create such a strong connection with her characters.

Rivers explores family dynamics, the bias of memory and the need for forgiveness in this powerful novel. I heartily recommend "Leota's Garden".
776 reviews
April 30, 2011
I knew pretty early on that I was going to hate this book, but I kept going due to a horrified fascination; I wanted to see if it would end as wretchedly as I thought it would. Sure enough, it did. I had so many problems with this book that I almost don't know where to begin. First of all, the timeline doesn't even really add up. I know this was written a few years ago, but Leota's and her daughter's ages don't really match up with the various events described in the book. Leota shouldn't be as old as she is.

In addition, the book contains many pages of internal dialogue or other ramblings by the main character. She comes off as angry and intolerant, and although I did feel for her because of her loneliness, the whole book read as a jeremiad against modern life, etc. The sins decried in this book include homosexuality, abortion, alcoholism, etc., and then wrap up spectacularly with euthanasia/murder. The author has some very valid points to make, but there are just too many of them. There are many ways to write Christian fiction, but this is not one that works for me. I prefer the faith-affirming approach of Jan Karon and other authors instead of the "Repent, ye sinners!" approach that this author takes in this book.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Kathrynn.
1,170 reviews
June 19, 2022
Very nicely written, entertaining and hard for me to put down. This story stirred my emotions and tore at my heartstrings because Leota's two adult children live very close to her yet have very little to do with her. She's 86-ish and can no longer take care of her home, garden, and even walking to/from the store had become a chore. She is very lonely with the t.v. to keep her company as she longs for being able to take care of her home the way she used to, e.g., windows, carpets, lawn, garden.

She decides to call the number of an add on t.v. for help and Corbin (college boy) enters her life. Corbin is writing a research paper on what to do with the elderly. These two were fun to read about and Leota was very strict with Corbin initially.

The other main character in the story was Annie. Leota's estranged granddaughter (a lot of hard feelings in this family against one another). When Annie turned 18 and moved out, she contacted her grandmother, Leota, and they hit it off. Annie was curious about Leota because her (pain in the ass mother) repeatedly told Annie that she was just like Leota. Leota and Annie's relationship was such a joy to read.

Annie, Corbin, and "the neighbors" began hanging out and cleaning up Leota's home and garden. Annie was a budding young artist and she painted murals inside Leota's home. Other stuff happened, too. :-)

What a story and I enjoyed reading how "it" all came together.
Profile Image for Colleen.
598 reviews2 followers
February 13, 2011
As far as Rivers' books go, this one is deeply subtle (versus, for example, the Mark of the Lion trilogy--wait, the books about Romans persecuting Christians are Christian literature?--or the Women of the Bible series (duh.)) Actually, correction - the male love interest's girlfriend is an obvious "big bad secular feminist" - but a, she's so loathsome why stop to think about how much you hate her, and b, anyone who went to a liberal arts college knew someone like her and ARGH she was so ANNOYING wasn't she?!?!

Anyway my point is I am usually squeamish about reading books very CLEARLY aimed at specific ideologies. Then again I gave the Amber Spyglass, where kids kill God, the same ranking. Alright, whatever, I'm calling myself fair-minded.

So listen to me when I say that this book is fantastic, human, wonderful, makes you want to be a better person, and also makes you want to be a better gardener. (I'm sorry, plants, I will take better care of you.) The ending is frustrating to a certain extent because there's a definite lack of accountability to the unexpected villain of the piece... but to redress that would betray the spirit of a book all about people willing to come to grips with the harder facts in life, in the belief that it's worth the doing.
Profile Image for Kathleen.
26 reviews1 follower
May 10, 2012
This is one of my very favorite Francine Rivers books! I have recommended it to many woman, and even to a womans study group (who just loved it). Do not hesitate to read it, you will be so glad you did.

From dust jacket:

"Once Leota's garden was a place of beauty where flowers bloomed and hope thrived. It was her refuge from the deep wounds inflicted by a devastating war, her sanctuary where she knelt before a loving God and prayed for the children who couldn't understand her silent sacrifices.

At eighty-four, Leota is alone, her beloved garden in ruins. All her efforts to reconcile with her adult children have been fruitless. She voices her despair to a loving Father, her only friend.

And God brings a wind of change through unlikely means: one, a college student who thinks he has all the answers; the other, the granddaughter Leota never hoped to know. But can the devastation wrought by keeping painful family secrets be repaired before she runs out of time?"

This novel will touch your heart and spirit!

Profile Image for Melissa (Semi-hiatus Very Behind).
4,650 reviews2,122 followers
May 23, 2019
I didn't think I would like this one as much as I did, I'm not super into gardening, I thought the story would be depressing...but overall, it's a beautifully told tale that will stay with me a long time.
Profile Image for Victoria Green.
Author 2 books6 followers
March 18, 2014
Another profoundly applicable book to our lives. Leota's heart sold out the Jesus Christ and yet she like myslef struggles with so many family dysfunctional relationships. Leota 84 years young is abandoned by her two older children (Nora and Micheal)...both self serving/self centered people who believe they are intitled to have had a 'normal' life...Leota lives in a run down neighborhood though she is easily loved by neighbors....a young man, Corben, is a university student. He comes to her with the intent on 'studying' Leota and writing a paper for college about how old people need to live in government housing. Leota's grandaughter is the whole story! She is everything Leota had always wanted. Annie is everything everyone wants...or wants to be. She is a picture of Christ's love....Annie loves and becomes a mega source and force in Leota's life and Corbon's as well as her mother Nora's reconstruction. All the dysfunction is exposed and it was tough at times to get through some of the parts in the story....too much to identify with. Leota's garden is the center piece- the place in which hearts change....it brings what garden's do; peace, tranquility, wholeness, strenth, perserverance, and healing to all who enter. A highly recommended reading. If I could give more than 5 stars,I'd give it another and another and another!

9 reviews2 followers
February 8, 2012
There were amazing aspects to this story. The characters were absolutely lovely. The story of redemption was remarkable. The granddaughter's commitment to Jesus was palpable and beautiful.
In those ways, I loved it and would recommend it to anyone. The downsides for me: There were long sections of monologue/prayers, which just bored me after a while, frankly. Its agenda was a little too strong for my taste. Maybe personal preference, but I prefer literature to be literature, not political fodder. I actually happen to agree with it's agenda, life is a gift. But the way in which she wove that theme into the plot was strong, sometimes harsh and unfair to some characters, in my opinion. And honestly, the final blow of euthanasia was pretty horrifying to me and too harsh for a book like this. Yes, it made a point. But, to what end?
If you can get past the monologues and you don't mind a very in-your-face agenda, the story and characters are some of my very favorites I have ever read.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Maddie.
15 reviews
April 30, 2014
So this was my second of Francine Rivers books. It is different from anything I have ever read. I have shied away from many Christian novels because they end up being silly romances. But that was certainly not this book. It was about love, but not the romance kind. Family love, love for God, and the love God has for us all.

Leota was my favorite. She was sweet, feisty, and deep. Annie was almost too sweet, but I really did like her. I was a bit disappointed where her story ends, but who knows what could happen later in her life?

Rivers deals with serious issues while providing love and humor (but not a ton of humor.) I finished this book in two days!
Profile Image for Alida.
600 reviews
December 30, 2013
I would have given this book 3 stars but for some glaring time line errors. Nora, is born before her father enlists in the US Army during WW2 yet in the 1990s she is 45 years old. Her mother, Leota is a young woman when her husband left but is now 85. Argghh. Francine Rivers is a famous writer and Tyndale House is a reputable publishing company. Surely a barely competent proof reader or editor should have caught these obvious errors.

I enjoyed the story but once again skipped over big chunks of the book. All the inner head talk did get a little tedious.
8 reviews
June 6, 2011
This was such a great read. I couldn't put it down. The relationship between mother/daughter/grandma was amazing. Francine never fails to bring God's word to life. Lots of material to use for witness opportunity.
My favorite part when Sam asked Annie "what's your sign?" Her response "The fish" Sam, "Pisces." Annie "Nope. Ichthus. Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior"
I am definitely going to be using that one next time I'm asked about my sign.
Profile Image for Hannah De Castro.
21 reviews1 follower
June 20, 2016
I am a Francine Rivers fan as I greatly enjoyed both Redeeming Love and The Atonement Child. So I had high expectations for this book. Leota's Garden was slow and not very exciting. It didn't get very good until about halfway through. The ending was full of twists and turns and ended with a satisfying resolution, but it took so long to get to that point and it wasn't what I had hoped. It wasn't an awful book, but I'm not sure I'd recommend it. Francine Rivers has better books out there.
Profile Image for Theresa.
346 reviews
October 17, 2016
Leota Reinhardt is in her eighties. She has a son George, and a daughter Eleanor, neither of whom keep in touch with her very often, and so she lives alone struggling to keep up her house and do simple tasks like getting to the grocery store without a car.

Enter Corban Solsek. A spoiled young college student from an affluent background (with a spiffy new car), and determined to succeed, Corey (or Corban) has a task to fulfill; a sociology assignment given to him by his professor. In order to get the high grade he covets, Corey reluctantly decides to make a case study and Leota is the lucky woman whose name is given to him by a local charity.

Or maybe not so lucky? Corey’s standoffish ways, his self-serving attitude and obvious lack of regard for the elderly show up all to blatantly when he arrives on Leota’s doorstep. Leota, no naïve, inhibited figure herself, and Corban sadly do not hit it off, especially when he takes it upon himself to clean her front window and is caught peering in when she doesn’t answer the door as quickly as Corban thinks she should. Sparks fly and words are not minced.

“She sounds like a rude old biddy.’

“Yeah, she is,” he said, head back against the sofa. “Disagreeable. Snarls every other word at me. Orders me around like a personal servant. She hasn’t an ounce of respect for my person.”

“Does she know you’re studying at the university?”

“She knows. That’s just another strike against me.”


He leaned forward, raking his fingers through his hair in frustration. “Why do you think? She knows she’s part of my project.”

As this novel progresses, the reader learns all about Leota and why she acts the way she does. We are introduced to her granddaughter Annie, fleeing her home in order to escape her vain, suffocating mother (Eleanor, Leota’s daughter) and her overly ambitious plans for Annie. Annie decides that the years have passed too quickly without her ever really getting to know her grandmother and so she too shows up on Leota’s doorstep. But Annie’s arrival sparks a change. Annie is talented and determined to make it in the art world, and Leota’s overgrown, neglected garden begins to flourish again (possibly an illustration of what needs to happen within the characters in this absorbing novel).

We find the reasons why Eleanor is driving everyone closest to her away and gasp at her incredible audacity and creativity as she manipulates emotions to get her own way. The author seems to know just when and how to reveal each character’s story; her timing is perfect; answers are unfolded at just the right time. Why *does* Nora hold so much anger and bitterness toward Leota? Could there be justification for her hurts or is there another hidden side that the reader hasn’t had answered yet? Meanwhile, we laugh and cry in turn as we read through Nora’s actions that are so revealing of her inward thoughts:

“The quaking started inside her. Would her family be happier if she went off by herself and left them alone to celebrate Thanksgiving any way they wanted and with whomever they wanted?

Thanksgiving at her mother’s! Thanksgiving in a cramped, prewar cottage surrounded by run-down houses in the middle of a ghetto. How delightful!”

We are saddened by the story that is slowly uncovered as the reader is given the backstory but the characters remain ignorant and frustrated by the repercussions in the chain reactions they themselves have caused.

“Carefully stacking the letters in order, she bundled them again.

For now, she supposed Eleanor would continue to cling to her own view of the past. She would hold on to the tattered crazy quilt of experiences stitched together by her own fertile imagination. Bits and pieces of conversations, things she had been told or over-heard – fragments of truth, but never the whole of it.

Stand back, Eleanor. Stand back, and take a good look.”

What a clever author! The reader will be challenged in their thinking as they come across contemporary dilemmas and difficult situations concerning euthanasia, abortion, and the tug-of-war between driven success and the strain it brings to families. The reader is also taught that everyone has a story; sometimes the outward actions are not as easy to read as we might think. There are hard lessons to be learned here, and one of them is that we may not be able to ever sufficiently fix the past or mend the hurts we cause.

This novel is not a comfortable, happy-go-lucky read (I am not saying there is not a place for light reads in literature; just don’t look for it here). It targets human flaws and mistakes, wrong choices, and exposes the consequences of our own selfishness. It challenges the characters, and in doing so, the reader is also challenged to look beneath the surface and be willing to consider the whole picture.

The author does not try to hide behind a sugary-sweet characters but rather shows life in all of its realities and the results of our own sinful decisions. There are no ‘pat answers’, no predictable outcomes, no neatly-tied-up romances in this book. This is a book I wish everyone would read, regardless of their viewpoint or worldview.

I read this book in one weekend. Although a re-read for me, the story is just as fresh and engaging as the first time I read “Leota’s Garden”, and I had a hard time putting this down!

The tragedy and complexity of our own human nature is revealed in all of its dark repercussions, but there is also hope that springs up in unexpected ways and surprising unlooked-for answers. If nothing else (and there is a LOT of the ‘else’!) “Leota’s Garden” illustrates the veiled mystery within life itself mixed with the sovereignty of a God who does not abandon His loved ones to suffer in hopelessness alone.

Profile Image for Richard Derus.
2,981 reviews1,990 followers
September 29, 2021
I read this with a religious sister of mine after out mother's death. It is typical Francine Rivers prose...direct, declarative, unpretentious, and very earnest...and a typical Francine Rivers story...redemption is her hallmark.

I do not have the religious gene so it was uncomfortable for me to read that angle of the message. I found reading the story itself very appealing, a kind of wish fulfillment-cum-wistful sadness that my own mother wasn't more like Leota at the end.

If a parental loss is imminent or recent in your life, permaybehaps this book will give you a needed fellow feeling and/or catharsis from disappointment.
37 reviews
May 23, 2023
I read this years ago. However, the fact that this babe had not one but TWO fine men after her and she rejected both of them because she's "in love with Jesus" pissed me off so much.
68 reviews1 follower
June 5, 2017
I did it. I finally finished!

I wanted to like this book and give it a high rating. But in the end, I felt like it just plodded along too much and that the story arc didn't have enough resolution.

- I thought the book had a good main point, which was to try to understand the decisions that people have made in life, before jumping to conclusions about why they made the decisions that they did.
- I found myself feeling like I understood the perspective of the elderly more - the feelings they have about being put in assisted living homes and how the events of world history they've lived through have shaped them.

- I was torn about whether this is a pro or a con. But it kind of disappointed me how the Leota and her daughter weren't able to reconcile in the end. The daughter started to change and work through her bitterness and resentment by the end of the book, but I wish I could have seen more change and hope in her life. I suppose it's probably more realistic, though, because in real life there are probably many situations that end up being unresolved in families.
- I found the character of Annie (the granddaughter) to be fairly unrealistic. Maybe if she had been several years older, I could have seen the type of person she was being a little more believable, but they amount of maturity and love that she displayed at 18 years old was a little too much.
- All the unresolved relationships made me feel stressed out. I wish there had been more growth and change in most of the characters.
- It frustrated me to no end that Leota never spoke up and explained to her children why she made the choices she did. It seemed like it probably would have made a difference.

There's other examples, but I thought I would highlight these ones.
Profile Image for Crystal McGough.
80 reviews5 followers
March 16, 2018
I have read all of Francine Rivers’ books (except The Masterpiece), and she is one of my favorite authors. That said, this is the only book of hers that I have been disappointed in. I kept reading it thinking, this is Francine Rivers, so it must get better. It didn’t. This book had absolutely no redeeming quality.
First of all the same phrases were used repeatedly in the book, making the writing seem stale and poorly executed.
Then you have the relationship between the mother and grandmother. Basically, the mother holds a grudge against the grandmother because, though she tried to do her best raising her and loving her as best she could, the mother felt unloved as a child and refuses to forgive. Because of this, she keeps her daughter from ever meeting her grandmother. When the daughter is old enough, she decides for herself to meet her grandmother and the two form a close, loving relationship. The daughter tries to reconcile the relationship between her mother and grandmother, but the mother only grows jealous and more bitter. In the end, the mother and grandmother don’t get a chance to reconcile before a serial (euthanasia) killer murders the grandmother against her will and completely gets away with the murder, going on to commit more murders...the end. That’s seriously it.
I left this book feeling so angry.
Also, apparently FR had some sort of vendetta against Pit Bulls when she was writing this book, because Pit Bulls analogies were frequently used throughout the book to describe angry people, especially the mother. For the record, American Pit Bull Terriers are one of the most loyal, loving, intelligent, trainable, and obedient dog breeds.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Debby.
931 reviews19 followers
September 13, 2012
If you've read Redeeming Love, you know what a gifted storyteller Francine Rivers is and the wonderfully mult-faceted characters she creates.
Leota is 84-years-old and facing the end of her life. She is alienated from her children and grandchildren, lives alone in a run-down house full of "history", mourns a garden that once thrived with creativity and life is now neglected and overgrown, a heart full of regrets and a heartfelt prayer and desire for reconciliation with her family before she dies. Then, one day a young male college student comes into her life to help her (but with a mission of his own in mind) and Leota's once alienated granddaughter comes back into Leota's life.
I've always had a heart for the elderly so Leota's Garden captured me from the first pages. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel as it deals with being forced to face the fact that someone's perception of the past may not be the whole truth; that someone can poison others with their bitterness, resentments and agendas; that life is precious from beginning to end and that reconciliation is always possible if you take down the walls and barbed wire YOU put up in order to be able to see the other side.
The sanctity of life is an issue Rivers brings into this story and in ways that aren't neatly packaged or completely addressed. In fact, I wish she'd gone a bit further, especially as it applied to Leota's life. But, I'm not giving anything away! Rather than a spoiler, I'll create a teaser!! ;)
Profile Image for Nora St Laurent.
1,465 reviews81 followers
July 10, 2015
This book reminded me of my grandmother who loved to work in the yard. This story also is a story of how the Lord talks about His garden and all the stories in the bible about that. They all come alive in this very powerful and gripping book. I really was moved by this story.

Disclosure of Material Connection:
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”

Nora St Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins www.bookfun.org
The Book Club Network blog www.psalm516.blogspot.com
Book Fun Magazine www.bookfunmagazine.com
Profile Image for Jeni Enjaian.
2,250 reviews32 followers
September 12, 2017
When I first found this book on the shelf of a thrift store I could not believe my good luck, especially when I started reading and fell in love with the entire story. I knew when I picked the book up again yesterday the distinct likelihood that the book would not survive reevaluation after 15 years. Grown adult Jen has matured in her reading tastes significantly since 16 year old high school junior Jen found the book on that shelf.
Many times this narrative almost reached a level above ordinary, almost. I could not help but feel frustrated at Leota's passively sanctioned racism and also with Annie's nebulous "mission" and maturity far beyond her 18 years.
Unfortunately, this book did not survive round two of the purge from my personal collection.
Profile Image for Brittany Lindvall.
122 reviews6 followers
October 16, 2022
It had been ages since I read this book so I decided to re-read. I enjoyed the story although felt like the end wasn’t really woven as well. The glimpse of life from an elderly person’s perspective was neat though.
Profile Image for Ed.
412 reviews15 followers
November 14, 2020
I did enjoy this book because of the things I learned and fortified the things I already knew. There are many scriptures illustrated in this book on Leota and her family. One scripture that is illustrated is Proverbs 3:5-6. So many times we look to our own understanding of things instead of looking at a providential God who is going to have His will done in our lives and in history.
Profile Image for Devin Vanderpool.
119 reviews6 followers
May 5, 2016
I will start off by saying I did like this book. It (obviously) was not my favorite of her books, but it was still an enjoyable read.

That said, I felt like I had already read it. I have read her work on mother-daughter relationships in the Marta's Legacy duo. I have read her work on abortion in The Atonement Child. Therefore I didn't feel that this book was particularly original.

I also really struggled with her character believability. Leota was downright mean to her neighbor. I would never have believed in a minute that after she was so rude Arba would still conclude that she liked Leota. I, who feel that I am a reasonably forgiving person, would not liked her in the least after she told me that my children's names were stupid as she did, regardless of her reasoning. No one is going to call my child by another name just because they don't agree with what I named them. That is completely disrespectful of the parents' wishes. I didn't believe her relationship with Corban either. She was incredibly rude to him and then suddenly that rudeness became okay and he started to like her because at least she was honest? Not believable. Annie's character's overwhelming purity despite her troubled home life was surprising too, but I will agree that the grace of GOD could make this possible. Even Nora's blindness regarding her mother seemed too overwhelming. Everyone struggles with relationships with their parents but her blind hatred and complete lack of awareness of her mother's situation was unbelievable, even if she was just a child. All in all, I felt like most of the main characters were flat. I just didn't trusted them.

I also disagreed with a lot of the fundamental beliefs about GOD presented particularly in the chapter in which Annie takes Leota to church. I get that she is an older person but alone time with the LORD has never been the most important aspect of our relationship with GOD, as Leota seems to believe. She didn't like the preacher's call to action much, but the modern church has plenty of experience enjoying time with the LORD and not enough time working towards the kingdom by doing things. I'm convinced that this is why the church is under so much attack. It is too lazy. Alone time is important with the LORD but GOD created us to work with Him. "Be doers of the word and not just believers, deceiving yourselves." GOD calls us to go and give the gospel to the world. Leota doesn't seem to agree with this when it is preached in church but she loves how Annie reaches out to others in her neighborhood.

Things I did like about this book:
Fred and Nora's relationship. Nora reminded me of the bride of Christ. She was vain, bad tempered, deceived, etc. But Fred, as Jesus does with us, loved her regardless of her faults.
I also loved that it didn't end with a neat bow. Leota died and her cause of death was never discovered by others. Corban still had a lot to figure out. Nora and Fred needed counseling.
I thought it was interesting how she brought up assisted suicide for the elderly. Even though I have a solid opinion on the subject, it was interesting in the story and provoked thought.

This book was fine, but I could not bring myself to rate this one highly because it was nowhere near as great as the Mark of the Lion series or Redeeming Love. It just didn't measure up to the standards set by Francine herself.
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805 reviews
August 23, 2019
There are major spoilers in this review, so skip that section if you don't want to know.

I had read other books by Francine Rivers and enjoyed them a lot, so I wanted to read another. I picked this one since it had such a high rating and my local public library had it. Bad choice. It was very unrealistic, IMO.

I didn't like several things about the ending. Things were left hanging.

The timeline thing bothered me somewhat, although it wouldn't be enough to make me dislike the book. I think the setting of the book should have been more than a decade earlier than the book copyright.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
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