China is getting aggressive toward adversaries in the face of coronavirus criticism
Lauren K. Denton
Post-divorce, Jessie moves back to her hometown with her teenage daughter. They live next door to Jessie’s mother on Glory Road, a bucolic dirt lane in southern Alabama. Each chapter alternates in first person between the three: Jessie, who at 38 mistakenly thinks she’s missed her chance at lasting love; Evan, the 14-year-old anxious to spread her wings in high school; and Augusta, the spunky widow facing a scary diagnosis. This sweet book about family ties exudes so much Southern charm that the scent of magnolias practically wafts from the pages.
All Manner of Things
Set in 1967 near Lake Chippewa, Mich., All Manner of Things follows the Jacobson family, seen through the eyes of 18-year-old Annie. She leads a mundane life with two exceptions: her older brother’s Army deployment to Vietnam and her estranged father’s sporadic visits. Finkbeiner gives Annie a strong supporting cast and weaves together authentic details of the turbulent 1960s: race relations, hippies, rock ’n’ roll, and TV dinners. Faith and hope remain central in this heartwarming story as Annie prays for her brother’s return from war and dreams of her father rejoining the family.
Where Dandelions Bloom
When Cassie Kendrick’s abusive father threatens to marry her off to their unsavory neighbor, she joins the Union Army disguised as a man. Posing as Thomas Turner, she proves to be a skilled soldier. Meanwhile, Gabriel Avery, a photographer employed by the famous Matthew Brady, travels with the troops and forms a friendship with “Private Turner.” Cassie continues the ruse even as her attraction to Gabe grows. Gabe’s admiration for the soldier turns to love when he discovers Cassie’s true identity. Both want God to heal their deep emotional wounds, but first they must survive the war.
On a Summer Tide
Suzanne Woods Fisher
When widower Paul Grayson buys a remote island off the coast of Maine, his three adult daughters are certain he’s made a huge mistake. That’s where the agreement stops, as their distinct personalities cause frequent squabbles and unexpressed emotions increase family tension. The sisters frequently mention their late mother’s strong faith, but they lack any spiritual mooring of their own. After a slow start, the plot picks up speed and reveals a compelling twist. Quirky locals and an unconventional schoolteacher complete the cast in this tale about forgiveness and second chances.
Allison Pittman’s The Seamstress (Tyndale, 2019) is inspired by a minor character in Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities. Set during the French Revolution, it tells the story of orphaned cousins Renée—conscientious and hardworking—and Laurette—impulsive and reckless. The girls spend their early years on a sheep farm with a benevolent guardian until the queen’s friend discovers Renée’s talent and takes her to Versailles to sew for the royal family. As the cousins’ lives diverge, we see cushy palace life juxtaposed against the lives of commoners suffering from hunger and increasing deprivation. Anyone familiar with Dickens’ classic may guess the title character’s fate, but this complex tale and its supporting cast keep readers enthralled to the last page. Themes of faith, loyalty, and redemption abound. —S.B.