The Runaway By Claire Wong

Most teens find themselves thinking at one time or another about running away when they cannot handle relationships, emotions and anger in their lives. Rhiannon does more than think about it she does it. After a heated argument with her aunt/guardian, she leaves, carrying herself as fast as her legs will take her into the forest. As with most impulsive actions she gave little thought to her needs and was totally unprepared to survive. Deep in nature, she struggles to care for herself. The hardship and loneliness cause her to fantasize and create her own stories to escape the harshness of her environment. Her inspiration is the folklore told to her throughout her childhood by a kind woman named Maebh. The story is a great testimony of how our actions large or small affect others not just ourselves. Much like the ripple effect of a stone after it is thrown into a pond.
Her leaving stirs up many things in the little Welsh village. Far more than just concern for her return, but the stress unearths long buried secrets, bitterness, and past failures. The villagers are forced to face the “skeletons in the closet” from the past and deal with them. To their credit they want to heal and move on, not attempt to hide them again. I saw another lesson here. You can try to cover up past mistakes, denying they ever happened, but they are still there. Someday you will be forced to confront them and make a final decision to take responsibility to make things right.
The story allows the reader to view Rhiannon’s experiences and thoughts and those of the town’s residents. The traditional stories and myths were interesting and entertaining. I must admit some parts of the book were hard to get into or moved rather slowly. It was a different kind of read for me.
I received this book from Kregel Publications in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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Before We Were Yours By Lisa Wingate

From the first time I read a book by Ms. Wingate, she captivated me with her stories and writing. I was very excited to read this book and it far surpassed my expectations.
I am intrigued my fictional novels that are based on true stories. The facts are true but how they are made play out in the characters’ stories lies in the hands of the author. Through Lisa Wingate’s talent and writing skill, these individuals were literally brought to life, so much so I had to keep reminding myself they were fictional!
Until this novel I had never heard of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society spearheaded by Georgia Tann. From the 1920’s through 1950’s, hundreds of children were kidnapped by abduction or trickery from loving and caring parents. Until they were adopted by wealthy or famous people, for a hefty fee, they suffered unimaginable physical abuse, sexual assault, neglect, and with some even death.
In 1939 a young girl, Rill, and her siblings lived happily in poverty on a house boat with their parents. While her father and mother were at the hospital welcoming another child they were snatched away and taken to one of Ms. Tann’s “homes”. That was when the nightmare began. As if the heartbreak of being separated from their parents was not enough, Rill also felt the pain of trying to protect her younger siblings and keep them together in an environment of cruelty and violence.
My heart broke at the horrors these children encountered. I never imagined!
The chapters alternate from Rill’s narrative to Avery Stafford in the present day. Avery is 30, wealthy, privileged and the member of a prestigious political family, totally opposite to Rill’s experience. When Avery attends a nursing home tour a resident appears to recognize her. She returns to visit her. In a sepia photo in May Crandall’s room she sees a family. One of the children strongly resembles her grandmother. She cannot get it out of her mind and begins to relentlessly seek out answers about her Grandma Judy’s past. Could May be a part of that past? Due to dementia claiming her grandmother’s once sharp mind she cannot ask her questions. It’s all up to Avery. What secrets will she unearth? How will they change her and her family’s lives? I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough! An incredible book with an amazing story!
Thank you, Lisa Wingate, for giving me the opportunity to read and review this book. The opinions I have stated are my own.

HELLO STARS By Alena Pitts

HELLO STARS
By Alena Pitts
We have to face it. Today’s preteens are enamored with stars, music, and dreaming of being in the spotlight. The problem is most of their examples are not wholesome or Christian, This book gives young girls the chance to be a part of the fantasy of stardom but in a pure and godly way.
Lena Daniels never dreamed she would star in a movie, and certainly not with her favorite Christian singer, Mallory Winston. That is exactly what happens when she wins a video audition which she assumed the prize was to meet her idol. She quickly finds out there is much more to being a star that she ever imagined. She discovers it is not all glamour and fun but hard work and responsibility.
This book has so many wonderful features that young girls, parents and grandparents will really appreciate. The Daniel’s are a strong Christian family. They are supportive of one another and live in harmony, showing the importance of family relationships. Prayer is a regular part of their life in all areas. Scriptural concepts are applied to the situations they face as natural as breathing! Girls are able to see how important God is in whatever is happening with big or the small matters.
What is so impressive is that the author is only 13 years old! No wonder she could so accurately capture the emotions of girls as they find themselves dealing with day to day life! Minor incidents adults would think nothing of are devastating to sensitive young ladies. In reading the book I was taken back to that period in my life and how differently experiences were viewed and felt. It’s that magical window of time right before becoming a teen that is accompanied by uncertainty, confusion and innocence.
At the end of each chapter the readers get a peek at what Lena writes in her journal to herself and God. She expresses her joys, doubts, fears, at the same time seeking God. In addition to all these positive features, the book is entertaining, fun and humorous. Even though I am 50+ years past the reading audience’s age, I enjoyed it! Definitely a book you would want your preteens to read! Ms. Pitts has a great future ahead of her as a gifted writer!
I received this book from Handlebar Publishing in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I expressed are my own.