Hearts Journey Home is a novel about family, faith, and love. The tale opens with Sorryl and Trey, a pair of sadly orphaned boys, being bullied, a police officer who unfairly believes them to be criminals, and a young woman who steps in to help. Fast forward a few chapters and the boys have been adopted by the young woman and her new husband, and they have figured out how to be a joyful, well-adjusted family. It seems like a "happily ever after" story until tragedy strikes and the Trestle family is suddenly challenged with more loss, a new and unwelcoming hometown, and a severe test of their Christian faith.
The rest of the novel is about the Trestle's journey from being outsiders in a somber, legalistic Christian town to being the heart and the light of the community, a reminder of the joy God's love ignites in us. The Trestles still have trials and the townspeople still have to figure out how to make sense of this "new" Christian life, but the results of God's faithfulness make this a story worthy to be told.
Hearts Journey Home is for the casual reader of teenage years or above. Its main characters are unapologetically Christian, as is the tone of the novel. The Trestles provide an example of how to create a solid, loving family with God firmly in the center. Christians are not immune to troubles, but dealing with the adversity is where true Christian character can be revealed, noticed, and emulated. There are no study questions with the book, but it could be used as complementary material for Bible study.
Pros: The Trestles are a family we can all hope to emulate. They shine with the love of Jesus and the joy of having priorities straight. They have challenges, as we all do, but they always remember that God is in control and that He is to be praised always. My favorite part of the book was when one of the sons described the Trinity as the family of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit with the last name of God. What a beautiful description!
Cons: Despite its wonderful imagery and positive story line, it was often difficult to read. The plot often jumped venues or circumstances without a chapter, section, or paragraph break, causing me to stop and ask myself, "Did I just read that?" Then I'd have to go back and re-read the page. In addition, there were several situations that were completely unrealistic to me. For instance, when one of the young boys was lost in a dangerous rainstorm one night, the dad was okay with just staying home and waiting until morning to find him. There is just no way a parent would be satisfied with that option.
I am glad that I persevered through the book. It was encouraging to see Christians making a difference living their lives for Christ. The love of the Trestles warming the icy hearts of the townspeople was inspiring and could be a picture of the towns around us if we're willing to step back and truly see. There were flashes of brilliance in the writing, and I will be sure to read the second book about the Trestles, which is being written now.