This past weekend I read a book by Sarah Loudin Thomas. When I started reading it, I had no idea that it was actually the third book in a series. There was no indication of this on the front or spine of the book. Surprisingly, I didn't realize that it was the third in a series until I got to the end of the book and read the descriptions of other books recommended at the back by the publisher. This book stood on its own without depending on the two that had come before it.
The book is A Tapestry of Secrets. The story centers on Ella and her grandmother Perla. Ella got out of an abusive relationship with her boyfriend a year before the story begins. Her occupation is creating art quilts. Ella is the kind of young woman who loves tradition and is closely knitted into the fabric of her family so when Perla has a stroke, she moves home to help take care of her. The book is the story of Perla's recovery and the secret that she wants to share. But, it is also the story of Ella coming to understand that God has the best plan for her and those she loves--that it is better than her own plan.
Ella is not a perfectly likeable character. She's very human, as are the other people in the story. Sometimes I wanted them to be cookie cutter like, but most of the time I was very grateful that they weren't. Seeing their imperfections also allows the reader to see them grow and to see a portrait of God's grace working in their lives.
I did find it interesting that art quilting was a part of this story. Art quilts are a new form of modern art that are gaining notice among modern art circles. I have two books that are about to be reviewed on my Making Things Stretch blog about art quilts that I love. So, it made me smile to hear about how quilting was a part of Ella's life.
As for the writing... I have read several fiction books recently that jump around a lot, leave big holes, have minimal description, weak word choice, and left me feeling like I'd eaten a rice cake instead of a peanut butter sandwich. As a result, it was refreshing to read Ms. Thomas' book. I appreciated her characters' imperfections. There were spots towards the end, where I felt her passages were a little too short and needed more, but overall it was fine. Not exceptional, but fine, good. The writing was enjoyable enough that I want to go find the first two books in the series and read them.
One last quick note... there was a scene in the book in which one character apologizes to another and the person receiving the apology says "That's okay." Well, no, really it wasn't. Yes, she forgives the person, but it isn't just "okay". There are some responses that we give as a culture that aren't truthful and that's one of them. The truth is that--Yes, God's grace covers over that offense and she will forgive that person, but what they did (abusive actions) wasn't "okay". I don't expect to agree with everything in a story, but my mind stopped for a moment when I read this.
I'm glad I gave this book a try. It was good, realistic, Christian fiction and I look forward to reading other books by this author.
Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from Bethany House Publishers.