Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Truth Will Set You Free

Reviewed by Phee Paradise

Almost Forever
By Deborah Raney

Almost Forever starts with a tragedy. Five firefighters are killed when a homeless shelter burns down. The book follows two of the surviving spouses as they deal with the grief and anguish of their loss. Bryn Hennesey worked at the shelter where her husband lost his life and was there the night of the fire. She not only has to go on living without him, she also has a burden of guilt she tries to suppress. She finds she can talk to Garrett Edmonds, whose wife was one of the lost firefighters. They find comfort in each other’s company and their friendship grows, in spite of their raw grief.

The first half of the book seemed like a straightforward romance, with the conflict coming from the grief and anguish the characters must face. But chapters of predictable events, something happens to Bryn that changes her life – and her character. She faces a hard decision and does what she thinks God wants her to do. This event not only changes Bryn, but also changes the nature of the story. None of the events that I foresaw happened. (Well, maybe one, but that was at the end.) Raney surprised me at every turn and after a ho-hum start, I found myself gripped by Bryn’s actions and the reactions of those around her.

I have to admit, the beginning of the book bored me a bit. The tragic events at the beginning did not grab me because they were followed by fairly predictable responses by the characters. While some of that was necessary to set up the events in the last half of the book, I think Raney could have condensed it. When I got to what I consider to be the real story, I almost felt like I had been reading a really long prologue. But from that point, I really related to Bryn’s complex character and difficult decisions. If you’re like me, you’ll want to skim the first half, but really focus on the rest.

Pros: Characters who face difficult situations and respond as you would expect, but then allow God to shape their decisions and character.

Cons: The author takes a little too long to get to the heart of the story.

About the Book:

Unearthing a lost memory may cause her to lose everything she holds dear… but could it also set her free?

Bryn Hennesey, a volunteer at the Grove Street Homeless Shelter, was there the night the shelter burned to the ground and five heroic firefighters died at the scene. Among them was her husband, Adam. Like the rest of the surviving spouses, Bryn must find a way to begin again. But Bryn must do so living with a horrible secret.…

Garrett Edmonds’s wife, Molly, was the only female firefighter to perish in the blaze. As her husband, it was his job to protect the woman he loved.… How can he go on in the face of such unbearable loss and guilt?

And what started the fire that destroyed the dreams and futures of so many? Investigators are stumped. But someone knows the answer….

About the Author:

Deborah Raney's first novel, A Vow to Cherish, was awarded a Silver Angel from Excellence in Media and inspired the acclaimed World Wide Pictures film of the same title. Since then her books have won the RITA Award, the HOLT Medallion, and the National Readers' Choice Award; Raney was also a finalist for the Christy Award. She and her husband, artist Ken Raney, make their home in their native Kansas.

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