Thursday, July 23, 2009

Book Review: This Side of Heaven by Karen Kingsbury/4 Stars

About the book:

Annie Warren always wanted the best for her son, Josh. But years of failure and bad choices created a heartbreaking distance that has grown far worse since the day Josh was hit by a drunk driver. Now on medical disability, Josh has put his life on hold for years, waiting for the insurance company to send a settlement that never seems to come. Worse, he believes the story of a scheming woman who claims they have a seven-year-old daughter named Savannah.

Despite the unlikelihood and complete lack of evidence, Josh dreams of being a father and is determined to one day claim the child. His family doesn't know the full story. They don't know what happened the night of the accident that was worth the chronic pain Josh suffers every waking minute, or that his is turning his life around. They haven't seen that Savannah's eyes are his, and they don't know how desperately the little girl needs her family.

When the settlement that rightly belongs to Josh is threatened, Annie sets out to defend her son. But she might find a treasure more valuable than money, one she never expected, one that is the greatest gift her son could ever give her...this side of heaven.

My thoughts:

I have very mixed feelings about this book. For one, I've grown a little weary of Karen Kingsbury's lack of new material. Everything she writes anymore seems to be identical. When she wrote the Redemption series with Gary Smalley, I was so impressed that I couldn't stop talking about her books to anyone and everyone. But since then (and I've read all but maybe 5 or 6 of her books), I just get bored. Where it used to only take me a couple of days to read one of her books (I won't leave a book unfinished), it now takes a week or more simply because I lose interest.

But on the other hand, God must have known that I needed to read this book right now. (Stop reading now if you don't want to read any spoilers.) Halfway through this book, the main character, Josh, dies. And it was just so unexpected that I was truly shocked that the story was about to take that turn. The strange thing is that I read that portion of the book a couple of days before my husband's family got a terrible phone call. It turned out that my husband's cousin, Justin, was killed in a car accident. Even more unusual was that Justin and his family had just been up to our town for a visit a week before his death. When I heard the news, all I could think of was that I'd just seen him. Even more heartbreaking is that he leaves behind a precious 5-week-old baby girl, Palyn. Personally, I didn't know him that well, and only got to see him a couple of times a year, but I knew him to be a sweet guy who cherished his family and would do anything he could to help you out.

After all this has happened, and while reading this book at the same time, I have not been able to get over how precious our lives are, and how much that I want to make of the time that I have left on this earth. God has not promised us tomorrow, and even though all of us won't have a "hero" label attached to us like Josh does in this book, we need to do our best to make sure that every day counts. I was so touched by the things that Josh did in this book, things that no one knew about until after his death. He was friends with a neighbor with Down Syndrome, and he bought groceries for an elderly neighbor who was homebound. Reading that just put the urge within me to find ways to make a difference for others. I don't know how I'll do it yet, or what I'll do, but I do know that I don't want to leave this world one day and have regrets.

4 Stars

Southern?  No
Sass?  No


  1. Kingsbury tells a good story, but her sentence fragments distract me. (I can't help it; I am a retired English teacher!)

  2. This looks good.... you may sell me on Kingsbury yet! :)

  3. This book was awesome! It was my first Kingsbury novel too. I'm sorry to hear about Justin. I'm praying for your family.

    Another book that stopped me in my tracks about seizing the day is ...I just drew a blank!!! Oh, it's called On a Someday by Roxanne Hencke.


I love your comments!! They make me happier than cold sweet tea on a hot summer day! :o)