christa macdonald

Book Review: At The Crossroads

I loved this book. I was having trouble figuring out what I’d say in this review because normally I do a small summary, the stuff I liked, the stuff I didn’t like and then my concluding thoughts. But I can’t think of anything that wasn’t done well. It was that good.

At the Crossroads has a widowed mother with two kids who is making do and getting by, and lives in a manner that she is always expecting the other shoe to drop. And unfortunately? You don’t blame her, she has had a rough go of it. The last thing she needed was a crush on the pastor who may or may not be staying because his heart really is in the mission field overseas.

Christa MacDonald expertly portrays both small towns and private Christian schools, in that she shows the good, and the bad that come with those environments without feeling like she’s trying to make a point to the merit of either of these things. Private Christian schools can be great, but they can also be legalistic and condemning. As a single mother the heroine Erin, gets both ends of that. In the previous book her daughter was pregnant out of wedlock, and now she gets nastygrams from parents saying she should resign from her position as the physical education teacher. And she is clearly treated as a “lower class” than the other moms.

Dan Cooper is the pastor of the small town church, but he always meant this to be a temporary gig while he waited for his mom to recover from a stroke. Then the years rolled on and his mom didn’t improve, and he was still pastor. At the same time that he really notices Erin is when he reaches a crossroads. Is he going to lay down roots, or still aim for far off lands.

Yes, this is a romance novel, but that isn’t what I got out of being the point of the novel. Whether you get on a plane to serve in a mission field with a brand new language and culture, or you preach to a small town, or are a single mom to your two kids- that is your mission field and an equal calling to any.

What pushed me over the edge from “this is a really good book” to “ah I’d love to meet this author and tell her how good she is” is this one scene where you have this character who is in full time ministry and she’s preparing to go overseas and she is on fire. And while she’s in the small town she offers to help this newly divorced woman move. Now this divorced lady not only had her husband cheat on her, leave her, she’s having to majorly downsize her life. Our on fire ministry lady has zero compassion for her because she’s “an educated white woman. she’ll be fine. She’s better off than so many woman in the world.” Just because she’s not wrong about the facts, doesn’t mean she hasn’t missed the point. How are we to show love to people if we’re always comparing their sorrows to “well it could be worse”.

As I said, I think this is a great book, and I think especially people who have been in ministry will love it and probably be convicted by it as well.

Note: I received this book as an advance pre-reader copy.

Advertisements

Book Review- The Broken Trail

broken-trail

The Broken Trail Review

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Christa MacDonald pulls you into her story in the first couple pages and I found myself putting off other responsibilities to read a few more pages.

Katherine Grant is very good at her job, but she needs a break. She takes an assignment at a small town school hoping for a change of pace. Instead she finds constant tension with the school director who may or may not be sabotaging her.

Mac is a stubborn control freak who is drawn to Katherine from the first time he sees her. Even though he frequently gets burned by her temper.

I really appreciated that Katherine and Mac were no longer in their 20s. This is no coming of age/first romance/young adult romance novel. These are two single adults in their 30s/40s who have lived life and now are drawn to each other. I found this incredibly refreshing. The author also does an excellent job of portraying a small town. So often in fiction small towns are either idyllic or the scene of a horror story. There seems to be no middle ground. Christa MacDonald paints Sweet River as a beautiful remote small town, with kind people, but she doesn’t paint over the problems that seem to come especially with those smaller towns. She also does an excellent job of showing the strengths and weaknesses that can come with a private school.

The book starts incredibly strong, and Christa MacDonald’s strength as a storyteller and author is clearly visible from the very beginning, but I felt it didn’t end as strong. It has a fulfilling ending, and I’m thinking it comes back to what I often say, this isn’t my normal genre so I’m chalking it up to I’m just not as used to romance novels.

Note: I received this book as an advance pre-reader copy.